Sticking to Travel: Burr-love

3 Figures from Anne Michaels Skin Divers taken out of order.

Minarets of burdock
Thus begins "Wild Horses".

For the longest time, I was captivated by the junction of architecture and botany in this image. And almost equally as long, I felt a tension between the slender pointed tower of "minarets" and the globe-like burr (which resembles more the onion-dome features of Russian Orthodox churches) until at long last it appeared that the relation between the tower and the plant as a whole might make the image cohere. Alas. Not. I still view in my mind's eye burdock as a great branching plant not at all like a slender single tower. Yet as Amy Lowell gives us the evening primrose "comrade of the stars", Anne Michaels arrests the imagination with calls to prayer that stick.

All love is time travel.
From the closing lines of "Fontanelles" (last poem in the book) which is a trip through embryology and geology in a set of variations on ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Let us take advantage of the figure (Fontanelles allow for rapid stretching and deformation of the neurocranium as the brain expands faster than the surrounding bone can grow.) to add more material to the theme of time travel from another source, characters from Peter Ackroyd, English Music
Instead we discussed what he used to call 'English music', by which he meant not only music itself but also English history, English literature and English painting. With him one subject always led to another and he would break off from a discussion of William Byrd or Henry Purcell in order to tell me about Tennyson and Browning; he would turn from the work of Samuel Johnson to the painting of Thomas Gainsborough, from pavans and galliards to odes and sonnets, from the London of Daniel Defoe to the London of Charles Dickens. and in my imagination, as he talked, all these things comprised one world which I believed to be still living &madash; even in this small room where we sat.
[... pages and pages later ...]
For what is time but the very passage of music from generation to generation?
And the means to time travel through love ... reading of course and writing too.
Colette said, when one we love dies
there's no reason to stop
writing them letters.
And snipping the burdock into the shape of a minaret.

And so for day 1265

Teaching the World to Dance


Screenplay by by Stephen Beresford.

I laughed. I cried.

Two scenes were standout. Jonathan Blake (played by Dominic West) dance number. It's on fire. A rousing rendition of Bread and Roses. Simply stirring.

Why would such a film arouse such emotion?
Margaret Thatcher
Miners' Strike
Lesbians and Gays
Shadow of AIDS

David Denby in The New Yorker concludes

During the past thirty years, gays have fought their way toward greater equality, but the miners, who were defeated in the 1984-85 strike, have, like other union workers in England and the United States, continued to lose power. “Pride” ends on a note of triumph, but it leaves a long sigh of regret in its wake. Solidarity rarely outlasts the grinding movements of money and power.
He faults the film for not pointing out the irony. I chafe at the suggestion.

The Federation of International Employers tells a slightly different story. Decline in trade union membership in Western Europe but
Many of the regions where trade unionism has grown have been production centres for outsourced goods and services. As the supply of available skilled labour in Asia and South America declines workers have begun to assert their economic power. [This has] been strengthened by improvements in communications via the social media – which have made it much easier to organise industrial action. This has become such a problem that China has been forced to introduce legal restrictions on “the use of the Internet to disturb social order”.
In Canada need I mention Unifor? The question remains open if gay liberation can survive its mainstreaming and rekindle its alliances with organized labour and progressive forces. So Denby's remarks make me mindful less of the weakness of trade unionism and more wistful for the radical roots of gay and lesbian organizing.
HOW WE GOT GAY takes us into the gay rights movement of the 21st century. Now the movement has evolved into a powerful network of disciplined, top-down, media-savvy, Ivy League-staffed organizations that know how to operate the levers of power.

These new gay organizations co-opt conventional political weapons: self-selected candidates, political action committees, black-tie fund-raisers, research institutes and lobbyists. In the words of Fred Sainz, director of Communications at the Human Rights Campaign, “we sell gay rights the way Kellogg’s sells cereal”.
And someday that "we" will include pinko economists who will provide an analysis of the value chain that brings cereal and civil rights to a spot near you.

I have hope. Tears. Laughter. And Dance. That's how I was in '85 and how I remain.

And so for day 1264

Trip Tips

Mitch Cullin. A Slight Trick of the Mind.

We find a Sherlock Holmes in advanced age. And the novel raises existential questions about memory and loss. But also about love. Is our protagonist able to love? Is he able to express love? Are we like him?

There is poignancy in his remembering his long deceased friend and collaborator, Dr. Watson.

You know, I never did call him Watson — he was John, simply John.
We take him at his word. We believe him capable of signs of affection. And yet his is not the most reliable of voices. Frustration is the dominant key and we fall into identification at our peril. For example, later in the novel, we are almost seduced by his exasperation with a travelling companion into his deduction that all travel is better on the way out.
[I]n those moments, he missed the hours of reserve that had previously marked their travels. Still, he was aware that return trips being always more tedious than a voyage's beginning (the initial departure, in which everything then encountered was wonderfully singular, and each subsequent destination offering a multitude of discoveries); so whenever heading back, it was better to nap as much as possible, slumbering while miles subtracted and his oblivious body raced toward home.
It is supremely ironic that the man who repeatedly mentions his failing powers of retention should so celebrate discovery to the detriment of recall and attention to the slight alterations that time affects on any trip home through now more familiar landscapes. He has denied himself the joys of rediscovery and immersion in chance and change. What goes unsaid here is that the tedium is very much connected to a failure of memory matched with observation. Much of what is perceived as singular is produced by remembering and comparing. The really supreme irony is that we as readers notice this because of repetition (and subtle variation) of whole sections. Attentive to the displacement we are forever rewarded as if on a voyage out without return which is in the end the existential point that novel makes over and over and never quite the same way each time.

And so for day 1263


"Bluebottle Jellyfish"

little deadly
that roll
in surf
one drifts
a surfer's leg
the silk
of indigo pain.
Robert Adamson Waving to Hart Crane

When I first read this poem, I was left with the image of a pattern of blue welts on skin because I had read "lace" (singular) which I took to be a reference to the delicate result of contact. A second reading and I realize that the "laces" (plural) belong to the animal inflicting the pain.

And so for day 1262

Lilt and Grind

Many of the poems end with lilting verses reminding us of mortality and the great stretches of time of which we are not part. Could this theme be traced back to his translations? Emblematic are the final lines of a poem from seventeenth century France by Madame Des Houlières:

But that has little time to be
and a long time to be no more.
"To the Painter Polelonema" ends with what to me is a melancholic image
No sparrow
cracks these seeds

that no wind blows.
Something has been lifted out of time and in some sense denatured. And yet preserved. The ostensible object is the rendering of rocks into pigments into life wrung from the elements. And to do so is a vocation. Tension remains in that the foregoing lines are devoted to seizing life "in a single grip / that lasts for years" but here in the conclusion there is something impenetrable, something beyond ... out of reach of bird or wind. Yet there it is in the mind's eye elicited by the poet, Yvor Winters, contemplating the art of the painter, Polelonema.

And so for day 1261

Sleeve Safe

Don Coles, Forests of the Medieval World "Self-Portrait at 3.15 a.m."

descriptions of happiness must remain illegible
Very apt to describe grass style calligraphy which apparently is a mistranslation that stuck — see cursive script entry on Wikipedia — concerns far from Coles's middle of the night musings which come to us like a letter in a translation and serve as epigraph to our exploration of images from Li Po ...

Two translations, worlds apart.

We skip over the rendering of "Answer to an Affectionate Invitation From Ts'ui Fifteen" offered by Amy Lowell and Florence Ayscough, in Fir-Flower Tablets (1921).

J.P. Seaton "In Repayment for an Invitation from Mr. Ts'ui" in Bright Moon, White Clouds [2012]
That bird-track grass, the delicate style
of the calligraphy you wrote
[...] I try to smile [...]
Then I sing your words one more time,
words, tracks, traces seeming proof against
the ravages of these days of fire and sword,
safe here in the sleeve of my robe,
completely untouched, these three years.
James Cryer "Commenting on Ts'ui Fifteen's invitation" in Bright Moon, Perching Bird [1987]
you used
that lovely
birdtrack style
I laughed to heaven
you were here
the whole time since
as I've gone on
humming the words
your writing
has not died
I've cherished
your letter
in my sleeve
for three years
Seaton looks back. Cryer is focused on the present and we can report that Amy Lowell and Florecen Ayscough in their version are set on the future: "The characters are not faded. I shall keep them in my sleeve, and they should last three years."

My favourite because it displays bird-like qualities in its short lines is Cryer's and because I just like being left with the image of the cache and the humming.

But each belongs to a different era and together spell for us the need for renewed approaches to those illegible lines glimpsed alone at 3:15 a.m. or anytime or place we might have occasion to drink together.

And so for day 1260

Magic Hands

e.e. cummings

his queer hands twitter before him, like foolish
he is the most courteous of men
Eugenio de Andrade, "Penniless Lovers"
But at every gesture they made,
a bird was born from their fingers
and, dazzled, vanished into space.

translated by Alixis Levitin
from Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry edited by J.D. McClatchy
For further hand magic see the string figures in Kay Armatage's 1983 film Storytelling available from the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (not on Amazon, yet).

And so for day 1259

Mucking About

Reprocessing and revising material and finding new stuff (e.g. David Miall at U of Alberta presenting notes about and excerpts from Kristeva on the semiotic and the abject for a course on the Gothic).

Dig this quotation provided by Miall from Madan Sarup, An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, 2nd Ed. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993).

If the semiotic is pre-Oedipal, based on primary processes and is maternally oriented, by contrast the symbolic is an Oedipalized system, regulated by secondary processes and the Law of the Father. The symbolic is the domain of positions and propositions. The symbolic is an order superimposed on the semiotic. The symbolic control of the various semiotic processes is, however, tenuous and liable to break down or lapse at certain historically, linguistically and psychically significant moments. It results in an upheaval in the norms of the smooth, understandable text. The semiotic overflows its boundaries in those privileged 'moments' Kristeva specifies in her triad of subversive forces: madness, holiness and poetry. (p. 124)
And now to jump to a consideration how one gets from madness and poetry to the prose of sanity, the prose of propositions and positions (a hiatus to the flux).

A certain hypothesis: scientific skepticism (the readiness to question and test) is akin to the thought patterns at work in some forms of acute psychosis [playing on the border of what is and could be]. I venture to speculate it is this very set of thought patterns and habits of reality testing that both trigger an episode and assist in the return from the manic state.

Let me recall the classic thought experiment of the imitation game and present this found example of a machine that can "do" madness. Dan Lloyd in Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness concludes the fiction with a realist description of ... well, let me quote one of the characters:
His eyes searched all over the room, trying to lock onto us. I realized what a simple thing it was, to meet the gaze of another, to recognize. I realized that in the exchange of glances, that in one look back and forth you could see the unreeling of life stories, distilled into a single frank gaze, or an averting of eyes. I noticed all that because his look had none of it, because his look did not find us, did not find the wall behind us, did not find the empty space in which we stood. He was without eyes, without face, without mind. We were standing on the edge of a vast devastation.
The pathos is touching. Particularly touching since the narration holds the reader enthralled because of the depiction of a continuing search, an attempt to lock on, to orient a way to connection. That search and attempt is as much a projection of textual desire to make sense of the poesis under observation (that of the mad subject) as it is an observation of the mad subject's desire.

What has this to do with computing machines, you may ask. Dan Lloyd describes in a note how the chapter was composed.
Max Grue's most jumbled ravings are derived from his less jumbled speeches using text-morphing software found in the McPoet Dadaist software package, written by the multitalented Chris Westbury. [...] The text-morphing process takes each word in an actual text and calculates which words from that text are most likely to follow. Morphing then generates a new text preserving the same word-to-word probabilities, but random otherwise. Such texts are enjoyable nonsense, but seem strangely haunted by the style and logic of the original.
In its later incarnations, McPoet is known as JanusNode — a name that I like to think of looking both ways in the language game: to the ocean of linguistic materiality and the islands of rational discourse.

To muck about: To do random unplanned work or spend time idly; To do something with a piece of equipment when you do not understand how it works; To be playful; full of fun and high spirits. It's intransitive: takes no objects. Hence no positions or propositions.

And so for day 1258

mmm mosquito ooo

The poetic voice in Judith Beveridge's "The Mosquito, Riffs and Plaints" demonstrates a preference for sounds and noises in all sorts of shapes and sizes before settling in to apostrophize a certain insect and in so doing tell us of irritation in the midst of all those preferences.

[...] Little aching creature stuttering to the night
like a tiny violin, you look like one of Liszt's hemi-demi-semi-
quavers scrawled across night's long stave. With you I count

insomnia's digits, all your mal-arias are buzzing in my blood.
The poem ends with punning anticipation:
I'm waiting, Morse-quito, for my hand to slap a message
back — just once, loudly — and quick as your electric dialect.
from Storm and Honey

And so for day 1257

Softly Walking and Waking Eros

Throughout great stretches of Love Medicine and One Song the lover's body is assimilated to the landscape and all the sensations of love-making become inscribed in a choreography of ceremony and participation in the entire world with all of one's relations.

Under his arms, my mouth's
buzzing firefly
hovers and lands
the wet swamp grass
heavy with dew, releasing
the muskeg's secret scent
so he bends, breaks
beneath tongue tracks
so the ducks
fly up
Reconnecting is a matter of life-saving...
if it weren't for your eyes,
hazel as the heat of June
If it weren't for your fingers
all ten of them,
long and straight
that coil in my hair
and led my mouth to fields
where horses graze
and toss their heads, dancing
for apples
sweet as red love.
Gregory Scofield has as one of his poems states "devoted great thought to something and walked softly" : "Pêyahtihk".

And so for day 1256

End of Day Music

I haven't heard this combo since

Subject: Feedback: CBC Radio

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 01:43:24 -0400 (EDT)


I want to thank David Wisdom for the selection of music that concluded an intense day of listening to media reports and placing phone calls on September 11th. The first pieces of music that I heard and could listen to were played on CBC -- Phillip Glass playing his own composition for piano "Metamorphosis" followed by Aretha Franklin giving a soul rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Somber, clear, expressions of American culture very worthy of CBC Radio Two's motto of "Classics and Beyond". This was indeed music for the weary mind, body and soul. Much appreciated.
Quintessentially American and universal in appeal.

And so for day 1255

Scratch Lit

There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen
Ralph Maud on obscurity... ("Recurrences" chapter in What Does Not Change: The Significance of Charles Olson's "The Kingfishers")
Obscurities do not push one away from a poem; they are places where one is motivated to keep reentering the poem, bringing subsequent reading and experience to bear.
Readers are like philosophers, where there is no obscurity they will find one — a place to let the light shine through. I take as my example a reading from e.e. cummings "O sweet spontaneous" published in Tulips & Chimneys (1923) where the poet asks "O sweet spontaneous / earth how often have / the / doting / fingers of"
prurient philosophers pinched

which when it first appeared in Dial (1920) read
prurient philosophies pinched
So the uncovering reader (who reads the notes on the Representative Poetry Online edition) finds the abstract "philosophies" replaced with the easier to personify "philosophers" and the reader further thinks about the etymology of "prurient" from the Latin "itch" — and wonders just what these lascivious doting philosophers are set to scratch and notices that the line breaks and enjambement make hover an epithet over the philosophers, for a moment it is they who are "pinched and poked". And so the reader circles back to "doting" : a sign of foolishness or fondness?

The surface yields. And in a moment of identification the reader/philospher grasps the alliteration (prurient philosophers pinched) as a place of "reentering the poem, bringing subsequent reading and experience to bear." One to tag for memory. Not unlike ...

Judith Beveridge in the voice of Siddharttha
Brahmins — even among
the cuticles of the dead there is wisdom.
And I'll find it — no matter
who says truth can't be scratched open.
"The Vow" in the "Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree" section of Wolf Notes.

And so for day 1254

Dress Tree Flame

There are many commentaries on the red dress in Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea but few touch upon the temporal displacements initiated by its presence. First the dress and its sensory impact:

The scent that came from the dress was very faint at first, then it grew stronger. The smell of vetivert and frangipanni, of cinnamon and dust and lime trees when they are flowering. The smell of the sun and the smell of the rain.
Primordial markers of sun and rain are set in a context of foreshadowing the coming fire (the red dress is assimilated to a dream of flames). But there is also a retrospective aspect that is set up by a question of knowing how much time has passed. What is intriguing is the answer that is more than a simple enumeration of the passage of units of time. It is also a looking forward to burial. It is within the context of such temporal considerations that the senses sharpen and the faint scent grows stronger. The passage before the scent magic reads:
"Nobody's hidden your dress," she said. "It's hanging in the press."

She looked at me and said, "I don't believe you know how long you've been here, you poor creature."

"On the contrary," I said, "only I know how long I have been here. Nights and days and days and nights, hundreds of them slipping through my fingers. But that does not matter. Time has no meaning. But something you can touch and hold like my red dress, that has a meaning. Where is it?"

She jerked her head towards the press and the corners of her mouth turned down. As soon as I turned the key I saw it hanging, the colour of fire and sunset. The colour of flamboyant flowers. "If you are buried under a flamboyant tree," I said, "your soul is lifted up when it flowers. Everyone wants that."

She shook her head but she did not move or touch me.
There follows the passage about the dress and scent which then in turn triggers a flash back. And of course it is the mastery of Rhys to contain this in a first person narration and provoke an identification with this special type of time travel even if you never have seen or heard of delonix regia.

And so for day 1253

Out of Not Enough

I invite you to consider regeneration as a waiting on, not a waiting for.

New Directions reprinted Muriel Rukeyser's Elegies which first appeared in a limited (300 copies) edition in 1949. In their introduction to the reprinting, Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller write

Meanings, Rukeyser held, were the first casualties of war; the search for meanings would always be deferred till "afterward," when it was too late and the meanings were lost. The Elegies do not wait.
They lie dormant for meaning to connect with them. They are a bridge over time. I take as my text a stanza from the eighth, the "Children's Elegy"
However long they loved us, it was not enough.
For we have to be strong, to know what they did, and then
our people are saved in time, our houses built again.
In my mind's eye I appropriate the lines to the experience of a whole generation of gay men fighting a dreaded disease and a society reluctant to provide the resources to turn the tide. Like Rukeyser's war the worst of the AIDS crisis is in the past and yet the sentiment of saving (Benjamin - even the dead will not be safe...) our people, those that belong to us, and the historical task of rebuilding resonate strongly.

But how?

And in my bricolage fashion I mount a collage here with the third elegy "The Fear of Form"
Blackness, obscurity, bravado were the three colors;
wit-play, movement, and wartime the three moments;
formal groups, fire, facility, the three hounds.
See the documentation brought together by Douglas Crimp of the cultural interventions and formations, especially AIDS Demo Graphics. Fear of form overcome, very much along the lines described by Rukeyser. Uncanny to find resilience celebrated in the poetic record long before one's personal witnessing. And yet not so unfamiliar and alien. There is no waiting for the rebuilding. The barbarians are always with us. We don't have to wait. We are not characters in a poem by Cavafy. We do not wonder what next : "Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? / Those people were a kind of solution." We find our own solutions (and our memory traces of barbarians) in such places as Rukeyser's Elegies while there is still time.

And so for day 1252

House Hunting

It might reappear at some point in time on her website. Meanwhile guard your clippings. It did appear in the Globe and Mail - Toronto Saturday edition (14.01.2012). Not online at the Globe and Mail but they do provide a listing about her show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Featuring works made during a recent residency on the island of Gotland, Sweden, the Alberta-born surrealist’s lyrical watercolours drew inspiration from the region’s mythology, and intertwine feminist themes with fables. The works, according to Globe art critic R.M. Vaughan, are "charmingly whimsical at first glance, but grow increasingly spirited (in all senses of the word), and at times menacing, upon further inspection."
My description of one piece that the Globe and Mail chose to reproduce in its print edition: six figures of women look as if they have just pushed a building over a cliff look down upon their handiwork (a clapboard house collapsed and sending up dust clouds). The piece is called "The Father's House". This rough description does not do justice to its feminist wit. Our six characters do strike a pose.

One wishes that more of Kristin of Bjornerud's work was available for viewing. Or simply close your eyes (after reading her description).
Bjornerud says. "For me, the house is a wonderfully rich symbol full of contradictions and narrative possibilities. It can be read at once as a domestic space, a shelter, a sanctuary or a prison." As for the female figures, the artist says they’re "taking control of the symbol" as well as an act of solidarity and a small rebellion. "It’s destructive, but it’s also a joyful act, at least for some of the characters."

From a Galleries West write up by Janet Nicol of a show at Gallery Jones, Vancouver.
And thanks to Gallery Jones one can view a small reproduction of the watercolour and gouache work on paper. Still seeing a small digital image or even a sizeable reproduction in a newspaper, would not match seeing the 60" x 40" piece. Different ways of seeing. A point not lost on the artist who knows that even in the face of the same object, viewers views will differ or as Janet Nicol concludes "She talks about leaving certain ambiguity in the work to invite conversation with the viewer. 'It would be quite boring if we all read images the same way.'" Or approached wrecking the same way.

And so for day 1251

Familiar Complexity

From 2004, on John Forbes Nash from a posting to Humanist Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 220 picking up a thread from Re Humanist: 18.127 Nash's hope. Bringing in proximity a biographical note and a reference to a book on complexity.

In reading this and re-reading your [Willard McCarty's] comments on the unique value of wanderings, I recall back at the beginning of March 2004, John Bonnett [Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 693] recommend Alicia Juarrero's Dynamics in Action : Intentional Behaviour as a Complex System. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999) and wonder if in the case of Nash, Princeton didn't serve as a strange attractor bringing him round and round to the sanity threshold which he eventually crossed again. See Sylvia Nasar's biography of Nash in particular where basing herself on an interview with James Glass she argues "that, for Nash, Princeton functioned as a therapeutic community. It was quiet and safe; its lecture halls, libraries, and dining halls were open to him; its members were for the most part respectful; human contact was available, but not intrusive. Here he found what he so desperately wanted in Roanoke: safety, freedom, friends."
And glossed that set of desiderata as "Sounds a bit like Humanist, for some of us out here." Risqué but apt.

Three quotations about community and imagination are interwoven on the Humanist home page. They echo for me the "safety, freedom, friends" triad Nasar gleans from Glass.
«Communities are to be distinguished... by the style in which they are imagined.» «Collective imagining... takes shape through discursive engagement among interlocutors.... Discourse functions in this context not as a vehicle for transmitting information and beliefs but as a constitutive force.» «It takes some imagination and experience to know how to pose a question big enough, because this goes against all our training. Then, even after we have posed the problem as broadly as we know how, we always have to be aware that there is more out there that might overwhelm our theories and thwart our best intentions.» Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (rev. edn., 1991): 4; Robert Asen, "Imagining in the Public Sphere", Philosophy and Rhetoric 35.4 (2002): 349; Richard Levins, "Strategies of abstraction", Biology and Philosophy 21 (2006): 742
Constitutive forces at work via the tiny acts of communication. Engagement with the edge-wise.

And so for day 1250


Liz Smith has enthused about mayonnaise, about fried chicken and about French cuisine and she wrote in the New York Times "We ate high off the hog, low off the calf" and told in that space another good anecdote:

I learned a lot about comfort from Henri Soulé. One weekend the elegant DuPont-wed Francis — yes, with an "i" — Carpenter and her friend Shirley Maytag sailed into Sag Harbor. "We must go to the Hedges," Francis said, and so they set out for East Hampton. Arriving, Francis was stunned to see only a few cars. The dining room was all set up but empty. "Tell Mr. Soulé that Mrs. Carpenter is here for lunch," Francis said to a passing busboy. Soon, Soulé appeared in a bloody apron wiping his hands. Apologizing that he'd been butchering, he was charm itself, seating the ladies and asking what they'd like. "Whatever you'd like us to have," responded the gracious Francis. To Mrs. Maytag, she whispered: "Poor Henri. He has no customers."

Soulé served them a fine lunch accompanied by an excellent white Bordeaux. When Francis asked for the check. "Oh, madam," Soulé said, bowing. "There is no check. For you see, there is no lunch at the Hedges!"

So, who says there's no free lunch? If you're lucky, you eat high, and you eat low.
Liz Smith
"Mayo With A Slice of Life"
The New York Times Magazine
November 4, 2001

And so for day 1249


Étouffée: A method of cooking food in a tightly closed vessel with very little liquid or even without liquid, often called à l'étuvée.

Étuver: To cook food in covered pan, without moistening. This method of cooking is suitable for all kinds of meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit. A suitable quantity of butter, fat or oil is added. [Larousse Gastronomique]

Therefore, and as much as intervening is no mere uncovering of a desire or meaning, associating is no simple enumeration or reporting; each utterance can reconfigure the many series that precede it, invest them with new meanings and project them in different directions, help them produce further associations or altogether stifle them.
Fadi Abou-Rihan
"Constructions Revisited: Winnicott, Deleuze and Guattari, Freud"
British Journal of Psychotherapy 31, 1 (2015) 20–37

And so for day 1248

Phono Photo Places

Imagine a clacking keyboard throughout the duration of reading this entry.

From the archives and a review of Dianne Bos exhibit at Wynick/Tuck by Thomas Hirschman ["Sensory Deception: Two Shows Play Tricks with Sight and Sound" Now, Vol. 22, No. 41, June 12-18, 2003].

A lot of art stimulates the brain. Some pieces excite the theatre of the mind – where sounds stimulate the imagination to create imagery. At Wynick/Tuck, a body of new work by Dianne Bos takes that a step further, mixing audio with still images to create moving pictures in your head.

The length of each audio recording corresponds to the duration of the exposure. One photo captured three minutes and 33 seconds of a French carousel spinning around and around. The result is photo of a grey blur accompanied by the sounds of merry-go-round music and excited children. Voices and the constant crash of water hitting the pool of a fountain can be heard for one minute and 39 seconds at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. The accompanying image shows off the beautiful architecture of the space, its stillness contrasting with the motion of the water.

Looking at the pictures, listening to the ambient sounds, the scenes spring to life. And for the length of time dictated by the exposure of the film, it's as if you are there.
Or elsewhere. I would argue that there is a décrochage. There is a still photograph and ambient sound. No matter how transported the viewer/listener may be, the sound is coming towards you and the photograph is before you. You are not simply there. You are elsewhere. You never get here.

Stop keyboard clacking.

And so for day 1247

Hurry of the Unharried

The context is very specific to a drive through a given landscape but the image can be applied to our being in the world as

A hurry through which known and strange things pass
The line speaks to me of our modern condition and the sense that both the familiar (known) and the exquisitely bizarre (strange) come to us even as we remain still in place treading like a mad red queen.

The line by the way is from "Postscript" collected in The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney. The line itself strikes us as both strange and known (because we return to it and return to it "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.")

And so for day 1246

Meat: Horrid & Otherwise

In the middle of the anthology edited by Mark Strand [The Golden Ecco Anthology: 100 Great Poems of the English Language] there is Melville's "The Maldive Shark" which has striking ending epithet for the maritime beast:

Pale ravener of horrible meat
In the middle of another anthology there is a hunger of a different sort:
I have broken the sound barrier of morality
with one crunchy bite on the phallic biscuit.
In my boyish womanhood, with my soul in drag,
I have been personal concubine to hundreds
of queens and princes, mistress of many
hedonists, lover of all.
The poet is William Barber. The poem, "The Gay Poet" collected by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard in A Day for a Lay: a century of gay poetry.

And so for day 1245


To judge a book by its cover, this one is an homage to Jenny Holzer. Holzer on screen and cityscape (from the days of Truisms) and George Murray in book work (Glimpse) trade in aphorisms.

One of my favourites from Murray:
The only reliable form of time travel is living.
And so by moving forward in our reading we turn to the past and open the book Jenny Holzer: The Venice Installations to Michael Auping's curatorial statement in which we read "Given the character of Holzer's texts, the quietude of Holzer's antechambers is decidedly unsettling." Consider the opening and closing of "LAMENTS 1987-89".


As Murray writes, "We're already being studied by the future."

And so for day 1244

Marker Mindfulness

At the corner of Crawford and Barton, north west corner of Christie Pits, in the tree-planted area where the Garrison Creek is marked, across from St. Raymond Catholic School. One tree caught my attention, not so much for is commemorative plaque, but more for the words on that plaque.



"Paix" "Joie" "Sérenité"
But a name and a sentiment. A reminder to be mindful. And so easy to pass by without noticing.
I hope the tree fares well. And its tripartite motto carries on.

And so for day 1243

Varieties of Orgasmic Experience

The book first appeared as Elements of a Coffee Service in 1982 and then when it was published by Ithuriel's Spear, Robert Glück, the author, noted "We dropped of a Coffee Service from the original title of Elements: I got tired of saying it and no one else seemed to remember it." Good story. Worth adding to a trove of lore.

Notice how the shortened title opens up the set of elements.

This is in tune with the varieties of experience exposed in the pieces:

Orgasms come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes mechanical as a jack-in-the box — an obsessive little tune, tension, pop goes the weasel — other times they brim with meaning. And other times, like now, they are the complimentary close that signals the end of a lengthy exchange. I recall a memorable climax, a terrific taste of existence in the summer of '73. I was with Ed; we weren't doing anything special but the orgasm started clearly with the fluttering of my prostate, usually a distant gland, sending icy waves to my extremities. Then a hot rush carried my torso up into an arc and just before I came a ball bearing of energy ping-ponged up and down my spine.
Juxtapose with the description of the pace and form of conversation:
We settled in, obligingly gauging ourselves to each other's rhythm as a sign of friendship: my abbreviations and wisecracking, Bruce's paragraphs and meditative periods.
Note the order of presentation: abbreviations then meditative periods. A capsule history of the title.

And so for day 1242

Escape Velocities and Stillness

"Notes Towards a Minor Art Practice"
Simon O’Sullivan Vol 2.2. Syncretism (2005)

It is then as if there must be two moments, or movements, to a minor practice: one of dissent (either a strategic withdrawal as a form of engagement, or strategic engagement itself), and one of creativity (the production of new forms). Art is a name for each of these strategies. We might reformulate this as a question of moving at different speeds to various institutional apparatus of capture, of moving faster, but also, if we take Henri Bergson’s thesis into account, of sometimes moving slower (and sometimes even standing still).[19]

[19] I am thinking here of Henri Bergson’s gap, or hesitation, between stimulus and reaction which in itself allows creativity to arise. See Bergson’s Matter and Memory, and especially chapter 3 ‘On the Survival of Images’ (MM 133-177).
(MM) Bergson, H. Matter and Memory, trans. N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer (New York: Zone Books, 1991).

See work of Suzy Lake. In particular the concept of Reduced Performing. With attention to the execution of extended breathing in public places. Especially "Extended Breathing on the Steps of the Detroit Institute of Art".

And so for day 1241

What Pops Up Pops Out

The copy in Robarts Library was presented by Jearld Moldenhauer.

Robert Glück. Family Poems. "The Body" (1979)

Some of us went on to wear our erections
like jewelry and others of us didn't.
An unusual carrot — purple with two "legs" and a "pelvic bump" puts me in mind of Glück's lines.

And so for day 1240

From Ludological Retelling to Possible Worlds

Jason Rhody
Miscellany is the Largest Category
Games, Fictions, Narratives (2006)

I construe the relation between game playing and story telling as one of encapsulation. The ludic drive as hypothesis forming and testing is a type of drive to narrativization. People play games to tell stories. People conduct experiments to tell stories. Or reshape the stories that are told.
Jason's astute reply
Having narrativity, at least in the sense that Ryan (Narrative Across Media) implies, is thus distinguishable from being a narrative. Many things have narrativity (the potential for narrative), but not all are narratives without the accompanying act of retelling.
Postscript from a retelling in off-line notes:
Jason Rhody's discussion of "game fiction" has me thinking. Script became an interesting term in our exchange. Prince's dictionary [Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology] allowed me to distinguish script from rule. The one has as its aim "role"; the other, "move". That led me to query the ordering Marie-Laure Ryan made in an abstract [“Narratology beyond Literary Criticism” housed on the portal of the Narratology Research Group (Forschergruppe Narratologie)], an ordering that reminded me of the work of [Lubomír] Doležel on possible worlds and fiction. I am struck with remarking that both populate worlds before describing changes in states of affairs.

Could it be that the line of description goes:
state of affairs --> world --> agents

Description )) Collection
open for
This seems complicated ... it is trying to tease out the imbrication of narration with narrative. Description-Collection-Motivation is an abstract way of trying to capture world-building as a cumulative activity. The key I now realize is the switch from Observation (Description) to Curating (Collection). In other worlds a fictional world can be populated by agents once the elements of that world are deemed movable. It is also the distinctive move from state of affairs to world. In conclusion, we might be able to align games with the move from state of affairs to state of affairs and fiction with move from possible world to possible world (which is totally erroneous direction since in some fictions there is no change of world but simply a change of the state of affairs in a world). Game fiction complicates the picture further.

Best to end, for the moment on an orthogonal comment on the phenomenology of participant-approaches to games and stories
Susan Stewart in On Longing (1993) in the section on the miniature writes: “The toy is the physical embodiment of the fiction: it is a device for fantasy, a point of beginning for narrative. The toy opens an interior world, lending itself to fantasy and privacy in a way that the abstract space, the playground, of social play does not.”
Of course, the toy is not the game. The map is not the territory.

And so for day 1239

Myth At Hand

Ron Paulson "Crow Creek" in First Person Plural edited by Judith Fitzgerald. It is sharp. And wise. Recall doesn't lead to nostalgia. It looks forward to the telling of the story. Here are the last three stanzas:

There probably isn't enough creek left
to produce a sense of loss as my grandfather
felt his lost manhood and I my boyhood
and there's nothing left for me in the factory farm
but dust and ammonia.

There is something exaggerated
about my sentimentality, however.
I never saw the farm when is was unbroken prairie
covered with buffalo, not to mention when it was an inland sea
hunted by plesiosaurs.
When I first saw it the creek was polluted
with agricultural run-off and the pheasant my grandfather shot
had ancestors on the steppes of Asia.

But, we make
our myths, I guess,
from what we have
at hand.
Doing this entry lead to a search for Ron Paulson, the Kingston bookseller. The search netted a hit to this bit from George Fetherling [The Writing Life: Journals, 1975-2005] which is told either with chagrin or antipathy — difficult to judge the true motive of an outing.
But he was a fine poet, in my view, and a firm friend of poetry. I always felt sad that he only ever came but partway out of the closet. To my knowledge, he always lived alone, never a stable relationship with another man. But then 20 years ago [...] I remember what Ron Paulson, the Kingston bookseller, told me once of having some rough trade come into his shop in the morning to sell books obviously stolen from Tom's shelves while Tom slept.
There is myth work to be done here in rereading Marshall's oeuvre for hints of queerness.

And so for day 1238

Intertwingling Tingles

Ted Nelson. Dream Machines

Everything is deeply intertwingled.
Presentational sequences are arbitrary.
Birds --> Bees --> Flowers
Flowers --> Birds --> Bees
Flowers --> People --> Birds
Hierarchies are typically spurious.
Language     God
Truth     Man
Logic     Yale
Boundaries of fields are arbitrary.
[image of a circle with Yin Yang curve and radial segments: two overlapping ways of organizing the space]
So Nelson asserts: "Compartmentalized and stratified teaching produces compartmentalized and stratified minds." It does not follow. For example rote learning such as memorizing times tables leads to an ability to navigate the matrix at will i.e. disciplined learning is the bedrock of flexibility. See Grids, Lists, Clusters. The shapes of presentation are indeed fungible. From that insight one ought not to leap to the conclusion that shapes are prisons.

And so for day 1237

Smut is Also a Word for Fungus, I Remember

Yi Yŏn-ju "Dusk in Winter"

Life's end, does anyone
really live beyond it?

Let's start again.
Power of
Collected in Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women Ch'oe Sŭng-ja, Kim Hyesoon and Yi Yŏn-ju translated by Don Mee Choi.

And so for day 1236

Uni Ennui

Who could get bored with sea urchin? Not anyone in our household. The phrase combining Japanese (uni) and French (ennui) only came up as a suggested substitution game for the caterpillarbutterfly duo so prominent in this third section of Regarding Love 2 by Kim Hyesoon.

Collected in Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women Ch'oe Sŭng-ja, Kim Hyesoon and Yi Yŏn-ju translated by Don Mee Choi.

And so for day 1235