Ward/Word

BookThug has published a chapbook by Robert Anderson entitled The Hospital Poems. On the back cover there is a blurb by Julie Joosten "the ward becomes world, becomes the word, becomes the war." Beauty is drawn from struggle.

The brilliance of a haiku-like beginning to "Plato's Ward"

Morning is singular
Tangerines on the table
The image is so arresting that the mind almost blocks out what comes next. You cart away an impression of the unique moment of viewing fruit assembled on a table.

Anderson is sharp in his rendering of the moment of perception even in the midst of obliteration there is a holding on. This is how he ends "Interlude"
All the trees
you could see yesterday
from the hospital window
were cut to the ground
But he is not only a poet of the stance. He also sets the words (and numbers) dancing. The third section from "Days of Betrayal" is a set in a step-wise fashion "DSM-IV Codes of Diagnoses / 296.34 / 300.02 / 300.4 / 301.82 / 301.83". That's it. No comment. Just the references to labels. Looking pretty on the page.

And so for day 1326
31.07.2010

Osmosis & Self

Diffusion.

The semi-transparent envelope is not merely an aesthetic metaphor: it is the perceptual envelope that constantly surrounds us, the fluid plane of demarcation between what is outside us and what is inside, between object and the brain's sensation/interpretation of that object. The shape of the envelope constantly alters, so that form one moment to the next we do not know how far we extend into the external world, how close we have come to touching or understanding an object, or how plastic and insubstantial our subjective world may be. It is an osmotic envelope of sensitive uncertainty, casting only the vaguest of shadows where our self is presumed to be.
Thomas C. Caramagno. The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness.

And so for day 1325
30.07.2010

Houses and Wares

Some are registered through the Little Free Library Org. Some are autonomous.

They are agents of circulation. Experiments in collective currating.

This one located on Clinton Street in Toronto has a lively polka-dotted roof.

Its side view

offers an image that recalls the tall trees nearby and the blousey poppies that grow in gardens on the street.

For scrabble lovers ...

This niche on Howland has a fine range of choices on its shelves.

A variation on releasing books into the wild through Book Crossing which is more focussed on migration than rotation. Both the little libraries and the releases into the wild are captivated by circulation. Both depend upon an abundance of print matter. And a certain insouciance.

And so for day 1324
29.07.2010

Diagnosing Tree Death

I walked regularly by them when they first graced the street. They would give cachet to the street. They didn't. They died.

At first they thought the trees along Toronto's Mink Mile died because they were planted at the wrong time.

The dead London plane trees, mostly located on the block between Yonge and Church, died because they were planted at the wrong time of year, against the advice of city arborists, following numerous construction delays and a strike. The Globe and Mail counted several more dying or dead street trees still standing west of Yonge, a few as far west as Avenue Road.
The Globe and Mail now reports
The first set of trees [London planes] died because a contractor used a low-quality fill that trapped salt while preventing the roots from growing beyond the root ball. Construction crews are now pulling up the dead trees by their trunks so they can suck out the backfill and replace it with appropriate soil.
The London plane trees have been replaced by disease-resistant elms and Kentucky coffee trees. A new generation of walkers and passers-by may never know what the designers had intended.

All this in a city that prides itself on its tree canopy.

And so for day 1323
28.07.2010

Three Takes on the Untold Taken

There was Wallace Stevens ("The Relations between Poetry and Painting" in The Necessary Angel) who drew on Simone Weil:

Simone Weil in La Pesanteur et La Grâce has a chapter on what she calls decreation. She says that decreation is making pass from the created to the uncreated, but that destruction is making pass from the created to nothingness.
There was in Decreation Anne Carson, who in an essay and an opera explores the work of Sappho, Marguerite Porete and Simone Weil and examines jealous triangles, states of ecstasy and the challenges of telling. Two sentences from the essay
To tell is a function of self.
[...]
If we study the way these three writers tell about their own telling, we can she how each of them feels moved to create a sort of dream of distance in which the self is displaced from the centre of the work and the teller disappears into the telling.
And the opera has a neat disappearing/appearing trick in Part Two working through the material from Marguerite Porete there is a chorus of 33 questions where a series of letters in the text are bolded (in a mesostic style, as set of "j" followed by "a" followed by a set of "l" and then "o" etc. The chorus of questions has a second part which is a layout on the vertical of numbers 1 to 33 and the letters that were bolded in the first part: the result is a stuttering questioning of the word "jaloux?" ... JJAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOUUX? All this work of show and tell would almost be for nought if not for the preceding essay and yet the opera stands alone in its manipulation of letters in their vocal and visual manifestations and how the semantic is sometimes just out of reach — decreated.

There was the character Stephen King in the novel Song of Susannah: Dark Tower VI by Stephen King.
I think telling stories is like pushing something. Pushing against uncreation itself, maybe. And one day while you were doing that you felt something pushing back.
TH TH TH E RRR E

And so for day 1322
27.07.2010

From Farm to Fork: Friends Along the Way

Ontario's Local Food Act has an invigorating preamble that is a celebration of natural and human resources. It doubles as a call to working together to achieve a shared vision. It's all about togetherness. And interlocking diversities.

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/13l07

Ontario has robust and resilient local food systems: a highly productive agricultural land base, a favourable climate and water supply, efficient transportation and distribution systems, and knowledgeable, innovative farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs. These resources help ensure that local food systems thrive throughout the province, allowing the people of Ontario to know where their food comes from and connect with those who produce it.

The variety of food produced, harvested and made in Ontario reflects the diversity of its people. This variety is something to be celebrated, cherished and supported. Strong local and regional food systems deliver economic benefits and build strong communities.

Maintaining and growing Ontario's local and regional food systems requires a shared vision and a collaborative approach that includes working with public sector organizations. The process of setting goals and targets to which the people of Ontario can aspire provides an opportunity to work with industry, the public sector and other partners to promote local food and to develop a shared understanding of what needs to be done to support local food in Ontario.
I like the elaboration of the themes through an implied conceit of psychological development: this is who we are; this is what we do; this is what we hope to become. A far cry from the do and don't language of most laws.

And so for day 1321
26.07.2010

U.N.

un
discounting the dropped words (and the mangled French words in the English translation in a quotation from Georges Perec [1974] "Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Four"), there are to be found two instances of dropped letters in Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age (Columbia University Press, 2011) by Kenneth Goldsmith.

[p. 136] quoting from a Sol LeWitt contract between artist and draftsman

"The draftsman perceives the artist's plan, the[n] reorders it to his own experience and understanding"
[p. 142] in a quotation from Roland Barthes "The Death of the Author"

"We might regret this insincerity, but we should not be able to withhold o[u]r admiration"
The one instance marks a temporal disturbance [the/then]; the other, a fusion of selectivity and subjectivity [or/our]. These are little boxes. They open the text up to dérive.

They become for me readable instances where the dropped letter "u" and "n" shout back out to the "uncreative". Undoing requires attention to detail and an openness to semiotic flow. A commitment to practice. (A while back I found some interesting typographic events in Avital Ronell's The Telephone Book which served as affordances for further reading, drrring.)

What is here play with tracing a field of associations through reading typographical errors as meaningful is a type of shadowboxing with language. Goldsmith evokes such box and shadow play by analogy to cellphone use in public.
Everyone is intensely aware of the phenomenon of public cell phone use, most viewing it as inconsiderate, a nuisance. But I like to think of it as a release, a new level of textual richness, a reimagining of public discourse, half conversations resulting in a breakdown of narrative, a city full of mad people spewing remarkable soliloquies. It used to be this type of talk was limited to the insane and the drunken; today everyone shadowboxes language.
Though texting may have overtaken cellphone conversation, there is still the kernel of truth in the notion of shadowboxing language. We pick up pieces and with enough runway we lift off undetered ...

And so for day 1320
25.07.2010

Anatomizing the Anomalies

The temper of Timpanaro: at points deliciously over the top. There is no mistaking his animus in the postscript. He is no friend of Freudianism: "psychoanalysis is neither a natural nor a human science, but a self-confession by the bourgeoisie of its own misery and perfidy, which blends the bitter insight and ideological blindness of a class in decline".

This after a whole book devoted to offering alternatives to the repression-based explanations of parapraxes. A book peppered with counter-examples and occasionally his own gem-like explanations. This stands out for me as a little tour de force in textual criticism and discursive analysis:

I once found Empedocle e gli autonomisti instead of the heading Empedocle e gli atomisti. This was in 1961 or 1962 (the book was published by La Nuova Italia some years later after further revisions had been made to it). At that time, the struggle within the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) between the so-called 'autonomists' under the leadership of Pietro Nenni, and the left wing of the Party was at its height — with the result that autonomisti was a term of current parlance in all the debates on the Italian left and in all the newspapers. Today it has virtually disappeared and Leucippus and Democritus no longer risk being numbered among the followers of Pietro Nenni.
Sebastiano Timpanaro. The Freudian Slip: Psychoanalysis and Textual Criticism. Published with a lovely index of slips along side the usual index of names and themes. The index of slips quite usefully places an asterisk next to those referenced by Freud. Handy.

And so for day 1319
24.07.2010

Affect Generation

In my copy of Barry Lopez Crossing Open Ground there is a yellow sticky commenting on this passage dealing with the effects of shared storytelling.

I felt exhilaration, and a deeper confirmation of the stories. The mundane tasks which awaited me I anticipated now with pleasure. The stories had renewed in me a sense of purpose of my life.

This feeling, an inexplicable renewal of enthusiasm after storytelling, is familiar to many people. It does not seem to matter greatly what the subject is, as long as the context is intimate and the story is told for its own sake, not forced to serve merely as the vehicle for an idea. The tone of the story need not be solemn. The darker aspects of life need not be ignored. But I think intimacy is indispensable — a feeling that derives from the listener's trust and a storyteller's certain knowledge of his subject and regard for his audience. This intimacy deepens if the storyteller tempers his authority with humility, or when terms of idiomatic expression, or at least the physical setting for the story, are shared.
"Landscape and Narrative"
The yellow sticky (written no doubt at a time I was taking Brian Stock's seminar on Augustine) references the vision at Ostia in the Confessions which is a case of another occasion where storytelling works its magic.
And when our discourse was brought to that point, that the very highest delight of the earthly senses, in the very purest material light, was, in respect of the sweetness of that life, not only not worthy of comparison, but not even of mention; we raising up ourselves with a more glowing affection towards the "Self-same," did by degrees pass through all things bodily, even the very heaven whence sun and moon and stars shine upon the earth; yea, we were soaring higher yet, by inward musing, and discourse, and admiring of Thy works; and we came to our own minds, and went beyond them, that we might arrive at that region of never-failing plenty, [...]
Augustine
Book IX, The Confessions
Translated Edward Bouverie Pusey
I could leave the comparison in this simple juxtaposition. But I want to signal that I have a hunch that the phenomenology of the affect generated by shared storytelling follows a path whereby one's concentration moves from names to things to relationships. The hunch comes from a hint in another of Lopez's essays "Children in the Woods" in which he muses on the brightest children being fascinated by metaphor. This is how he sets it up:
I think children know that nearly anyone can learn the names of things; the impression made on them at this level is fleeting. What takes a lifetime to learn, they comprehend, is the existence and substance of myriad relationships: it is these relationships, not the things themselves, that ultimately hold the human imagination.
And I would like to tell that the relationships include the narration - the bond between storyteller and audience - which in its potential for self-referentiality can entrance well past the thousandth and one night into a "region of never-failing plenty".

And so for day 1318
23.07.2010

Shrivel: dark heart of dark

Choice-Noice-Noise-Poise

This is the chain that I have dug up from a stanza from ryan fitzpatrick "A Sparrow's Song" in Fake Math. It reads in part like a syntagm carrying a transformation through the static. Here it is in its setting:

Yet, as Frost says, fuck choice, let freedom
race. Noice. Our sparrow lobs grenades at
glasnost — an 80's relic — instead it's Star Wars,
global spread of, and bottled coffee. Noise.
In Dolby or THX, hear nipples rub over
polyurethane, weather stripping over poise.
This is a far cry from the suave and sensuous renderings of other passages in fitzpatrick (including his edgy lyrics inspired by advertising calls to action — they propel). See this stanza from "The Dark Heart" where "poem stands" operate like groups of trees out of Ashbery...
Yet the poem stands pollute, stumbles to the dark
heart of dark amidst a fleet of tin canoes, brilliant
sugar maples craft a landscape of wide-eyed chocolate
wrappers. Private sawdust soaks up crops. Orchards
vanish into picture books. Propellers vent family farms
into tight designer jeans. Landfills, rotation act,
industrial waste percussion, signification bottlenecks
brainwaves; work of all wordplay: codeplay.
Indeed there are :signification bottlenecks:

A hint on how to assemble some of the more disjunctive parts is presented by Shelley Woods reporting on poetry and play with a Rubick's Cube. Swivelling my way to clarity. Hers is a different poem but the procedure is suggestive for other contexts: chop and re-sequence.

Poise-Noise-Noice-Choice

And so for day 1317
22.07.2010

Affronts to Aboriginal and Arab Cultures

Mark Abley treats us to engagements with the ghost of Duncan Campbell Scott, poet and bureaucrat, in a series of encounters related in Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott. Close to the end of the last session, our narrator lets loose.

"I concede nothing," I said, for once overriding his interruption. "It so happens that my father was an organist. I was raised on J.S. Bach, and I'll always be glad of it. But if I'd been raised on Sufi chants or African-American gospel music or the ragas of India, I wouldn't be any less civilized. I think Aboriginal dances can hold just as much meaning and beauty as Giselle. And besides, we've reached a point in history where that word 'civilized' sends up loud alarm bells. Were the Nazis uncivilized? They revered the music of Wagner. I'm sure many of them loved Bach and Mozart too. Ads went up recently in the New York subway system saying 'In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.' That's not just a slogan I reject, Mr. Scott — it's a war I refuse to fight."
In order to comprehend more specifically the narrator's refusal let us excavate some links to some of the news coverage of the NYC and also of the San Francisco transit ads:

ABC NEWS
NYC Subway Ads Call for Defeat of Jihad 'Savages' Sept. 20, 2012

BBC
The ads have also appeared on San Francisco's public transport system. In response, the transit authority ran anti-bigotry ads next to the [Freedom Defense Initiative] FDI's.

Mother Jones
Though Muni may have to run the ads, it has taken the unusual step of posting its own ads denouncing Geller's campaign [...] [Transcription from picture of sign with arrow to offending sign: SFMTA policy prohibits discrimination based on national origin, religion, and other characteristics and condemns statements that describe any group as "savages." ] Muni is also donating the money Geller paid for the ads to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

What does Abley, the author, accomplish when Abley, the narrator, doesn't provide a reference, doesn't tell the reader which group is aimed at by the term 'savage'? Evidently, he elevates the sentiment of refusal to a universal status. Less evidently but equally important, he offers the reader an opportunity to stomach more and explore the coverage and the comments on the coverage. And in the dynamics of the conversations and their aftermath, the refusal serves to clearly state the stakes. The refusal adds an echo within an echo for the narration ends with this observation: "Then his voice was no longer floating around me, though its echo seemed to fill a space the size of Canada." By this point, thanks to the outburst of refusal, we as readers know there are other voices capable of filling space.

And so for day 1316
21.07.2010

Labrys Rising

Andrea Dworkin
1975
Lesbian Pride
in Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics

Delivered at a rally in Central Park

The structure of the address is simple: three sources of lesbian meaning and power and to close, an admonishment that rocky days lay ahead. Her three meanings: love and respect of women; erotic bond with women; and mother-daughter connection. And these were not mere abstractions. Take for instance her characterization of the erotic bond. It's bold.

[B]eing a lesbian means that there is an erotic passion and intimacy which comes of touch and taste, a wild, salty tenderness, a wet sweet sweat, our breasts, our mouths, our cunts, our intertangled hairs, our hands.
In closing with an invocation of the difficult struggle on the horizon, Dworkin is almost addressing warriors. One recalls that the labyrs symbol used to be worn by many a proud amazon. O where have all the radical lesbians gone?

And so for day 1315
20.07.2010

Notes to Get Lost In and Find the Other

Tony Hiss The Experience of Place

on simultaneous perception

We can experience any place because we've all received, as part of the structure of our attention, a mechanism that drinks in whatever it can from our surroundings. This underlying awareness — I call it simultaneous perception — seems to operate continuously, at least during waking hours, even when our concentration seems altogether engrossed in something else entirely. [...] While normal waking consciousness works to simplify perception, allowing us to act quickly and flexibly by helping us remain seemingly oblivious to almost everything except the task in front us, simultaneous perception is more like an extra, or a sixth, sense: It broadens and diffuses the beam of attention evenhandedly across all the senses so we can take in whatever is around us — which means sensations of touch and balance, for instance in addition to all sights, sounds, and smells.
on utter watchfulness
We can detect cross-sensory patterns like the cooperation in a moving crowd because of three other processes in simultaneous perception — processes that have been the object of research. According to Anton Ehrenzweig [The Hidden Order of Art], an art historian at the University of London, his work with artists shows that people have an innate capacity that he calls "utter watchfulness": We can pay equal attention to everything at once, omitting nothing and at the same time emphasizing nothing. Ehrenzweig also considered the speed with which we can put together and respond to the information made available by "utter watchfulness" and concluded that people's thinking then show "split-second reaction to innumerable variables."
on choice and consciousness
[...] a secure place, as well as a quiet place, and a place with a rich variety of things to look at, listen to, and otherwise interact with. Such places offer simultaneous perception an enriched kind of stimulation and offer us a chance to intensify such perception by making it conscious. But then we have to choose what to do: whether to keep our attention on our own thoughts and plans or accept whatever our surroundings have to give us — whether to experience ourselves or what's around us. That choice — made once or made many times — determines in the long run how well we get to know a place and whether we ever get the full benefit of the experiences it makes available.
on legibility
The Kaplans think that we also have an innate preference for open spaces, which provide what they call "legibility." "Just as one can imagine oneself somewhere in a scene acquiring new information, one can imagine oneself somewhere in a scene getting lost," they write in Cognition and Environment. "Legibility . . . is characteristic of an environment that looks as if one could explore extensively without getting lost. Environments high in legibility are those that look as if they would be easy to make sense of as one wandered farther and farther into them. Enough openness to see where one is going, as well as distinctive enough elements to serve as landmarks, are important here."
from Froebel
In Froebel's formulation, which was based in part on the many days he spent outdoors as a child [...] people are created both as wholes and as parts — that is, they have to learn how to function both as separate individuals and as participants in larger patterns that include harmonious relationships with other people and all of life. And, Froebel asserted, it was only outdoors that a person could learn empathy [...]
to read, to sense, to experience, to project, empathize

And so for day 1314
19.07.2010

neopostcolonial

Consumerism.

I bought the book. I read the book.
Was I consumed?

The question arises in part from the vampire-inspired figure raised by Judith Barry in her critical and art work.

Architecture has become transparent, a giant screen into which social life dissolves. By making explicit certain unspoken yet intensely felt subject relations, my work attempts to develop a theory of mass/media consumer culutre, whereby as opposed to Baudrillard's schizophrenic, we inhabit the world like vampires, those last great, sentient beings of the 19th century imagination who are neither dead nor alive.
Judith Barry
Public Fantasy, an anthology of critical essays, fictions and project descriptions published to coincide with an ICA Exhibition, Public Fantasy 20 June - 14 July 1991
Project description "In the Shadow of the City ... Vamp R Y ..." 1982-85
I love that line ... those last great, sentient beings of the 19th century. What are we to do in the 21st?

This vampire figure is taken up by Jean Fisher in Vampire in the text: narratives of contemporary art (2003) which includes an essay on Judith Barry's video and installation work. There is also a piece called "Other Cartographies" which takes up the vampire analogy in a postcolonial setting:
The colonized body is a vampirised body; it arises as a debt — a depletion of blood, of identity — and it cannot be settled or buried since it inherits a perpetual and inexhaustible demand. If we consider the symbolic function of the grandmother in relation to this draining of colonized communities, then she appears as the site of recollection: of the recounting of stories that are the bearers of beliefs and values. She is the sign of continuity: a genealogy, a line back to cultural memory. Hence in Harold of Orange what otherwise refuses to be laid to rest, what constantly appears is tradition — tradition, not in the sense of nostalgia for what once was, but a continuous production of meaning. The debt, the circulating residue in the exchange between disparate cultural entities, is the constant production of otherness.
Can we take this highly gendered perspective to a reading of a reading of The Orenda by Joseph Boyden? Hayden King in a review published in Muskrat Magazine and represented by CBC.
The consequences of these themes – the marginalization of the perspective of the Haudenosaunee, the centering of the Jesuit point of view and the cultivation of old tropes, specifically the savage Indian – amount to a tale about the inevitability of colonization. The vanishing Indian was ordained (even desirable) because of his/her character. Indeed the un-named Sky People who open each section of the book observe the carnage below and conclude the grim history was pre-determined partly because of the selfishness, arrogance and short-sightedness of the Huron. Even Christophe’s torturer, Tekakwitia, will be converted: soon after the events of the book take place Kateri Tekakwitia is born, living a Christian life and eventually becoming a Catholic saint. It’s a grim reality and a difficult book to read. At least it will be for many Native peoples. For Canadians, The Orenda is a colonial scribe and moral alibi.
First the persistent Sky People. Theirs is the final word. They preside over more than beginnings; they have ends in view. Their words do open the book by stating the Jesuit view of the Orenda as unclean. They state the view, they do not endorse it. Indeed, this wrongmindedness is linked to bad behaviour. Orientations matter. In the final passage, they present a call for accountability and by implication a striving for a better future. It is difficult to read their words as simple colonial alibi.
But hindsight is sometimes too easy, isn't it? And so maybe this is what Aataentsic wants to tell. What's happened in the past can't stay in the past for the same reason the future is always just a breath away. Now is what's most important, Aataentsic says. Orenda can't be lost, just misplaced. The past and the future are present.
King claims in his reading that The Orenda characterizes the Haudenosaunee as torturers and a continual threat. As the plot unfolds the Huron are the first to torture two captured Iroquois; the Haudenosaunee do not have a monopoly on treating prisoners to caressing with hot coals. Indeed, at one point, one Jesuit addressing another says the Europeans are no different with their Inquisition. It is difficult to see the Haudensaunee as relentlessly depicted as the bad guys.

King offers historical extrapolation to point towards some triumph of colonial power and Christianity. But one could point to other passages in the novel that undermine any such triumphalism. On more than one occasion the Jesuit remarks on the lack of corporal punishment in the Huron child rearing practices and that will change once they are "civilized". Readers need not be reminded of residential schools to feel a foreshadowing shiver of abuses and almost fast upon that dark image to recall cultural resilience.

Indeed, the play of polyphony throughout the novel is often displayed with an economy of detail. You have to be attentive to the almost musical patterns to appreciate the ironies. Take for instance, the Crow (characterized by King as "the doomed hero that reinforces colonial myths of savagery on the one hand, and salvation, on the other") who after speaking with his companions about witnessing sorcery and trickery and admonishing "You'll be confronted by this type of foolery on a daily basis" turns his attention to our other two main characters sitting on the shore. His is a view outside-looking-in.
Bird must have said something funny to the girl, for she smiles brightly, looking up at him. She allows her hand to stay in his. A pang of jealousy roots about in my gut.
In King's reading readers would identify with the jealousy of the Jesuit, the instance of the narrating "I". [But this is more complicated because King separates out readers into Natives and Canadians.] But I will point out that the Sky People — not to mention the narration which shifts perspectives — have conditioned readers to view the scene as a whole regardless of who is relating the story. There is here to recall Fisher "constant production of otherness". All the fictional foolery leads to a variety of authenticity - something sentient in our imaginations.

And so for day 1313
18.07.2010

Der Hauch

What do you smell when you smell a book?
What do you breathe in when accessing bits and bytes? Do you have the aroma of coffee wafting nearby?

Jeffrey T. Schnapp & Matthew Battels
The Library Beyond the Book

The relics of saints were always already multiples whose magic resided less in in their claim to uniqueness than in their ability to catalyze the energies of a community as well as higher forces. Such will be the destiny of digital relics as well.
The mention of relics and the notion of technological mediation brings to mind Walter Benjamin's essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". What follows is less a screed about authenticity and reproduction and more of a sniffing about the origins of the term "aura" and its emanations.

On the intellectual origin's of Benjamin's aura I offer this extended passage from the Proxemics and Prosthetics chapter of Sense: Orientations, Meanings, Apparatus.
It is perhaps more appropriate to characterize this play of proxemics in terms of unlocking time or cutting time free since in this essay Benjamin in his definition of aura sees time as strangely woven into space to create the appearance of distance. Whatever the characterization, it is movement through space that destroys the timeless aspect of aura. Aura arises out of observer immersion in the phenomenon. Later in the Artwork essay Benjamin will stress the role of cultic practices in maintaining the contemplation necessary to sustain aura. However here in "A Small History of Photography" he accentuates the atmosphere-like quality; aura is breathed in. This quality is related to the factor of enfolded time the moment or hour becoming part of the appearance.

How aura as atmosphere can be related to enfolded time is not at all clear from Benjamin's text. In later essays, he drops from the discussion all direct mention of these two elements. The correlation between time and atmosphere passes through a mechanism of identification similar to the vessel-symbol of the Jungian soul. Whether Benjamin had read Jung at this point, it is clear that the auratic fusion of viewer and object places his discussion in the orbit of exponents of mythic images like [Ludwig] Klages.

The Artwork essay is marked by the traces of the work on Bachofen and mother-right. Benjamin compares early photography to the cult of remembrance of the dead. As well, although without reference to grave robbing, he refers to the destruction of aura when objects are pried from their shell. These passing references evoke less Bachofen's narrative of his first experiences upon encountering ancient graves than [Alfred] Schuler's story of his own first encounter with unearthed artefacts.

Schuler observing objects lifted from an archaeological excavation notes that as they come to light they loose their aura (der Hauch). It evaporates. Schuler claimed that a fluid, a film of life matter, was possessed not only by relics and cult objects but also by all ancient objects (See Fuld, Werner. "Die Aura Zur Geschicte eines Begriffes bei Benjamin." Akzente 26 (1979): 352-370. pp. 361-362). Benjamin could not refer to a written source for Schuler's lectures and fragments were published posthumously by Klages in 1940. However, it is the type of material that would circulate widely as anecdote. The evidence is compelling that Benjamin observed carefully the Munich circle around poet Stefan George of which Alfred Schuler was a celebrated part (Fuld 360). Indeed in the Bachofen essay Benjamin refers to George's dedication of Porta Nigra to Schuler.

The Schuler story perhaps did not influence Benjamin directly. Its key element, however, the fragility of the aura in the context of unearthing the past anticipates Benjamin's insistence on displacement in the destruction of aura. It also illuminates the perplexing combination of aura's source in ritual and in natural phenomena. It is upon the cult of the dead that mythic claims to a people's belonging to the land are founded. Without symbols such a cult is endangered. It is unable to envelop the departed, those now belonging to nature, and those belonging to history, the living, into one cognitive space. The past is not one with the present.
Following one's nose... metaphor for digital tracking. Not so much to find relics as to trace the paths of contact. There is a democratic mode to the creation of certain classes of relics in the Catholic tradition:
The 3rd Class Relic consists of something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic. Anyone can make their own 3rd Class relics by touching an object to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic, including the tomb of a Saint.
There are other traditions of relic veneration. What is remarkable here in the Catholic classification is how the question of authenticity and aura is mediated by proxemics and contact. The relic functions as a type of souvenir.

There is one such souvenir in my household. It's an old chipped brick. It could serve as a door stopper or bookend. A plain object. But it is a reminder of 1992 firebombing of the Morgentaler Clinic in Toronto causing damage so extensive that the building had to be demolished. The brick was salvaged from the rubble. The brick can now disappear in crumbling dust ... its story has been told. Digital dust will now help the brick tale disperse.

The only authentication the brick is found in story. Likewise aura of a relic or any object, digital or otherwise, is held in place by the discursive structures that support its apprehension. All power to the metadata! And the ubiquity of digital dust.

And so for day 1312
17.07.2010

Noetic Fallacy Fallacy

The reading below hinges on the distinction between "Snowman" (a being made of snow) and "Snow Man" (a being observing snow). It is a nicety not found in Fowler's. Search engines readily respond to either strings with image sets of anthropomorphic snow sculptures.

It is the making human of the inanimate that brought the distinction to the fore for me via C.D. Lewis reading Robert Langbaum. Lewis picks up a discussion of pathetic fallacy and identifies a subspecies "noetic fallacy" (see Lewis The Lyric Impulse).

Mr. Langbaum sees the subject [... comments on Langbaum's reading of poems by Marianne Moore ...] It is salutary to be reminded that natural objects do not have human purposiveness or feelings; but I do not see that such reminders constitute a new nature poetry.

On the other hand, Mr. Langbaum adduces Wallace Stevens' "The Snow Man", "which contrasts the inevitably anthropomorphic human apprehension of a landscape with the landscape as it might be apprehended by the mindless 'mind' of a snow man". I have studied this poem very attentively, and come to the conclusion that the poem is attempting the impossible. He has tried to put himself into the mind not even of an animal, but of an artifact — a snow man which has no sentience whatsoever. Mr. Langbaum's "as it might be apprehended" gives the game away: the poet has sought by this means to convey the absolute purity, the essence, of a winter landscape; but his method is not purely objective. Side-stepping, the pathetic fallacy, he has tumbled into another pitfall — let us call it the noetic fallacy.
Let's sort out what the poet has sought to accomplish and what the critic sees at work. Langbaum does suggest that impossible attempt that pushed Lewis to new coinage. He writes in "The New Nature Poetry" (collected in The Modern Spirit: Essays on the Continuity of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature)
Take as an example of the new sense of nature Wallace Stevens's "The Snow Man," which contrasts the inevitable anthropomorphic human apprehension of a winter landscape with the landscape as it might be apprehended by the mindless "mind" of a snow man.
Langbaum then cites the beginning of the poem ("One must have a mind of winter [..]") and provides the last stanzas as both proof and illustration.
                                  not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Lewis accepts Langbaum's assertion that the reader is invited to identify with an attempt to apprehend a mindless mind. But there are three "nothings" at play that could very well be the counters of a contemplative mind: nothing from the subjective self observing is placed into the landscape, nothing is observed that is not in the landscape including the nothing that is in the landscape. Queue de poisson.

Abrupt end or beginning? The nothing that is the self. We need not be in the mindless mind or mindless. We can call upon Buddhist tradition to explore emptiness. I quote from Hōsaku Matsuo's preface to The Logic of Unity: The Discovery of Zero and Emptiness in Prajñāpāramitā Thought [Translated by Kenneth K. Inada] who is quoting from the Heart Sutra: "Consciousness is at once emptiness and emptiness is at once consciousness." Is this not one having a mind of winter?

And so for day 1311
16.07.2010

Epic of Cloth

The useful life of fabric is set forth as a catalogue of thrift. Toni Morrison in Jazz employs an epic simile that rises naturally out of the thoughts of one woman ironing.

Alice had finished the sheets and begun the first shirtwaist when Violet knocked on her door. Years and years and years ago she had guided the tip of the iron into the seams of a man's white shirt. Dampened just so the fabric smoothed and tightened with starch. Those shirts were scraps now. Dust cloths, monthly cloths, rags tied around pipe joints to hinder freezing; pot holders and pieces to test hot irons and wrap their handles. Even wicks for oil lamps; salt bags to scrub the teeth. Now her own shirtwaists got her elegant attentive handcare.
Labour marks the passage of time but also the recurring cycles of domestic space for Alice's thoughts turn to the future.
Two pairs of pillow slips, still warm to the touch, were stacked on the table. So were the two bed sheets. Next week, perhaps, the curtains.
Meanwhile there is a knock. There is always a knock.

And so for day 1310
15.07.2010

Beans, Moms, Hockey

A tasty bit from a review with a long title about a book with a long title.

But then I am reminded of my friend — the one whose nose fills with the smell of beans whenever she hears that old hockey song. It was her mother, after all, who insisted on watching the game on Saturday nights, just as she had done with her family growing up. If hockey is our national pastime and a key aspect of our culture, we would do well not to forget half the population. Most women's games may not get national medial attention — they may not even be televised — but if you focus on them, you will see that the players are skilled and the games lively and hard-fought. All that is left is for someone to write about them.
"Rinkside Reading: what does hockey's literature say about the sport?" in Literary Review of Canada by Naoko Asano reviewing Stephen Smith Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada's Hockey Obsession.
To get the full impact of the olfactory memory and the import of the review's concluding musings on gender and sport you need to treat yourself to the domestic scene painted by Asano at the beginning
A friend once told me something funny about the old Hockey Night in Canada them song: whenever she hears it, the smell of baked beans wafts up her nose. It is a uniquely Canadian kind of synesthesia, the product of Saturday evening dinners in the 1980s and '90s when her father — it was his night to cook — always made the same meal: hot dogs, french fries and beans. Saturday was the lone night of the week when TV was allowed during dinner, and the TV was only ever tuned to hockey. Hence the game's anthem and the aroma of Heinz beans in tomato sauce.
My dad was not one to open a can of beans (though he did cook on occasion but never beans [beans were done by my mom from scratch with molasses]). My mom loved hockey. Her favourite player was Jean Béliveau. He was always a gentleman.

And so for day 1309
14.07.2010

Circular Joy of Submission

C.D. Lewis
The Lyric Impulse

[About a poem by John Clare produced during his confinement in Northampton Asylum] This, to me, is a test poem. If any student of English literature failed to respond to it, I would advise him to take up some other course: if I heard a teacher or critic dismissing it, or adopting a supercilious attitude towards it, I would wish to have him instantly deprived of his post. It is a test poem, because we can only accept it on its own terms and at its own level [...] To feel it as it should be felt entails an act of joyful submission. such an act of submission may be difficult for a modern reader, habituated by the earnestness or officiousness of literary critics to believe that no poem is worthwhile unless a fine dust of footnotes can be beaten out of it. But if the reader cannot make this surrender to simple poetry, his mastery of more complex kinds will be a little suspect, for it means that his channel to poetry's source has become clogged.
One dusty note:
supercilious = behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others [I always thought this word meant "super silly".]

And so with Wordsworth we are always ever "Surprised by joy" and mindful of loss. To this we gladly submit.
Wordsworth's sonnets are disclosures of intense emotion. Whether or not they have an identified addressee, they seem to require a listener.
Carol Rumens. The Guardian. Poem of the week: Surprised by joy - impatient as the wind 22 September 2008
From one's poet reading of another (of Lewis reading Clare) by the analogy of being open to surprise and submitting to the complex magic of simple poetry, we came to another (Rumens) reading another (Wordsworth) — a small leap across the years when impelled by a certain attentiveness which is all that is asked of us, all that is proposed, submitted to us.

And so for day 1308
13.07.2010

Pulse Imp

Anthony Burgess on James Joyce's gift.

A mark of Joyce's genius was to recognise the smallness of his poetic talent and to see how a fine ear and a weak lyrical impulse could revolutionise the prose of a whole era.
Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce
C.D. Lewis The Lyric Impulse.
It would be difficult to overestimate the harm done to language by modern advertisement. Amongst other things, the flowery, cynical appeals of publicists have set up a strong but undiscriminating reaction. If a man speaks eloquently, with panache, we at once suspect him of insincerity: we feel he is trying to get at us. This attitude of ours has spread over into literature. To many critics and younger writers in Britain, 'charm', 'grace', 'style' are naughty words [...] Here again the lyric suffers. A lyric poem must have some sort of grace; and charm is after all, carmen — a lyric song. If we so distrust charm and grace and style, and will have nothing but honest rugged poetry with no nonsense about it, we are discouraging the lyric impulse, and in doing so we cut off the main stream of poetry from one of its tributaries.
Joyce's Bloom in Ulysses was an ad man.

And so for day 1307
12.07.2010

Of An Ayre: Cogitation

Terrance Hayes

The Golden Shovel

after Gwendolyn Brooks ("We Real Cool")

[This stanza reminds me of the crowns in Basquiat's paintings.]

push until we thin, thin-
king we won't creep back again.
Cog Agitation

And so for day 1306
11.07.2010

Coronation Suite

Book Thug put me on to Jacob Wren (A Radical Cut in the Texture of Reality) who put me on to Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah (an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books De origine actibusque aequationis: Rachel Jeantel, Rammellzee, Basquiat, and the Art of Being an Equation) which was the impetus for a search re crown iconography in Basquiat which led me to a review of Jordana More Saggesse Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art reviewed by Anton Stuebner at Art Practical: 13 matches for the word "crown" in Stuebner's review which samples Sagasse's explanations (mark of graffiti artists admiring the work of others; "kingship" in jazz culture; a reference to the end credits of Basquiat’s favorite cartoon, The Little Rascals, which featured a hand-drawn crown above the title card “King World Productions”). As Stuebner remarks

These motifs engage multiple discourses all at once, and Saggese suggests that all of these readings can exist simultaneously. At the same time, part of what makes Basquiat’s work so consistently fascinating—and even frustrating—is the lack of a one-to-one correspondence between symbols and predetermined values. In the constant search for authorship and empirical meaning, Saggese sees a critical imperative to decode every gesture and mark in painting as a possible sign unlocking larger contexts and narratives not readily apparent on the surface.
The paintings invite us to track the tags and with others leading the way the trail is open to circling back ...

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah quoting/sampling Jennifer Clement Widow Basquiat has two occurrences of "crown" in her article:
He paints, pauses, picks up a book or magazine and when he finds a word or sentence that he likes he paints it on the board or canvas. There are codes: The crown is the logo from the t.v. show “The Little Rascals.” He mixes Spanish and English […] He paints kings wearing black crowns covered in tar and feathers […] He writes “TAR” everywhere in thick dark strokes because, “I sometimes feel as black as tar.”
Reading as seen and heard here is not just about recognizing one sign but combining signs, linking, associating, pushing meaning to morph.

And so for day 1305
10.07.2010

Pun Punch

It begins to rain and Timothy Findley at the end of the title story in The Ark in the Garden (edited by Alberto Manguel) turns the reader's mind to the moral of the story with a twist on the popular saying ("No news is good news") and given that the fictional protagonist is Noah it is fitting that the pun takes an animal nature.

No gnus is bad gnus. In other words, if you want to survive today — you had best get on the right list.
Like the gnus, Noah and the Mrs. didn't in this story make it on the right list and are barred from boarding.

Speaking of boats... "A Canadian is someone who knows how to have sex in a canoe." Pierre Berton. Also exists in these polite (and so Canadian) variants:

A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.

A true Canadian is someone who can make love in a canoe without tipping it.

Findley visited the Noah material at greater length in his novel Not Wanted on the Voyage where the surname of the couple (Dr. Noah Noyes and Mrs. Noyes) produces a bilingual pun since the French "noyés" translates as "the drowned". Indeed, the story just drips with satire and reversals.

Back to Burton's bon mot, of the Canadians that confess to sex in a canoe, how many did it while the canoe was still on land?

And so for day 1304
09.07.2010

Fail Again. Fail Better.

We begin once more with Epicurus from the Vatican sayings (so-called because of the location of the manuscript). [Translated by Russel M. Geer]

In a philosophical dispute, he gains most who is defeated, since he learns most.
And with the theme of learning, we broach the topic of success via the commencement address given by J.K. Rowling (Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination) who is quite aware of the ironies of delivering this message to a Harvard graduating class.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I've ever earned.
Note that last bit — delivered in the first person — it doesn't impose the insight on the audience. It's a nuanced retreat from the truism.

We round out the selection with a maxim from La Rochefoucauld [Translated by Leonard Tancock]
Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.
The passage of time, the reversal of judgement, the getting of wisdom. None of it painless even if it is a little irksome irritation inflicted upon our amour propre.

And so for day 1303
08.07.2010

gluk glak gleek

Anthony Burgess on the semantic and sonorous creativity of James Joyce (Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce) and its limitations (as poetry)

A mark of Joyce's genius was to recognise the smallness of his poetic talent and to see how a fine ear and a weak lyrical impulse could revolutionise the prose of a whole era.
We will resist here the attraction of search grinding to find mentions of "lyrical impulse" and will instead offer this description from the introduction to Post-structuralist Readings of English Poetry edited by Richard Machin and Christopher Norris.
Just as we can never write exactly what we intend, so we can never write and intend nothing at all. Language has its own inbuilt intention to mean, which we can at best only attempt to harness in a way that seems to suit our present needs.
Neither glak nor gluk nor gleek appear in Finnegans Wake. Check the online concordance and find the instances of "intend" which in one occurence the glossers relate to the Italian "intendere" to undertand which I fail to understand because the form "intend" matches none of the conjugated forms of the Italian verb. It takes a very fine ear... or a fine again eye.

And so for day 1302
07.07.2010

Orbiting the Obelized

Epicurus

On Happiness

Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.)

Translated by Robert Drew Hicks

Who, then, is superior in your judgment to such a person? He holds a holy belief concerning the gods, and is altogether free from the fear of death. He has diligently considered the end fixed by nature, and understands how easily the limit of good things can be reached and attained, and how either the duration or the intensity of evils is but slight. Destiny which some introduce as sovereign over all things, he laughs to scorn, affirming rather that some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency. For he sees that necessity destroys responsibility and that chance or fortune is inconstant; whereas our own actions are free, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach. It were better, indeed, to accept the legends of the gods than to bow beneath destiny which the natural philosophers have imposed. The one holds out some faint hope that we may escape if we honor the gods, while the necessity of the naturalists is deaf to all entreaties. Nor does he hold chance to be a god, as the world in general does, for in the acts of a god there is no disorder; nor to be a cause, though an uncertain one, for he believes that no good or evil is dispensed by chance to people so as to make life happy, though it supplies the starting-point of great good and great evil. He believes that the misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool. It is better, in short, that what is well judged in action should not owe its successful issue to the aid of chance.
      Translated by Xavier Bordes

D’après toi, quel homme surpasse en force celui qui sur les dieux nourrit des convictions conformes à leurs lois? Qui face à la mort est désormais sans crainte ? Qui a percé à jour le but de la nature, en discernant à la fois comme il est aisé d’obtenir et d’atteindre le summum des biens, et comme celui des maux est bref en durée ou en intensité; s’amusant de ce que certains mettent en scène comme la maîtresse de tous les événements – les uns advenant certes par nécessité, mais d’autres par hasard, d’autres encore par notre initiative –, parce qu’il voit bien que la nécessité n’a de comptes à rendre à personne, que le hasard est versatile, mais que ce qui vient par notre initiative est sans maître, et que c’est chose naturelle si le blâme et son contraire la suivent de près (en ce sens, mieux vaudrait consentir à souscrire au mythe concernant les dieux, que de s’asservir aux lois du destin des physiciens naturalistes : la première option laisse entrevoir un espoir, par des prières, de fléchir les dieux en les honorant, tandis que l’autre affiche une nécessité inflexible). Qui témoigne, disais-je, de plus de force que l’homme qui ne prend le hasard ni pour un dieu, comme le fait la masse des gens (un dieu ne fait rien de désordonné), ni pour une cause fluctuante (il ne présume pas que le bien ou le mal, artisans de la vie bienheureuse, sont distribués aux hommes par le hasard, mais pense que, pourtant, c’est le hasard qui nourrit les principes de grands biens ou de grands maux); l’homme convaincu qu’il est meilleur d’être dépourvu de chance particulière tout en raisonnant bien que d’être chanceux en déraisonnant ; l’idéal étant évidemment, en ce qui concerne nos actions, que ce qu’on a jugé «bien» soit entériné par le hasard.
Lacking skill in Greek, I am unable to these judge these versions. I can but triangulate with other versions.
And he does not consider fortune a goddess, as most men esteem her (for nothing is done at random by a god), nor a cause which no man can rely on, for he thinks that good or evil is not given by her to men so as to make them live happily, but that the principles of great goods, or great evils are supplied by her; thinking it better to be unfortunate in accordance with reason, than to be fortunate irrationally; for that those actions which are judged to be the best, are rightly done in consequence of reason.
C.D.Yonge
And such a man holds that Fate is not a god (as most people believe) because a god does nothing disorderly, and he holds that Fate is not an uncertain cause because nothing good or bad with respect to a completely happy life is given to men by chance, although it does provide the beginnings of both great goods and great evils. And he considers it better to be rationally unfortunate than irrationally fortunate, since it is better for a beautiful choice to have the wrong results than for an ugly choice to have the right results just by chance.
Peter Saint-Andre
http://www.monadnock.net/epicurus/letter.html
il n’admet pas, avec la foule, que la fortune soit une divinité – car un dieu ne fait jamais d’actes sans règles –, ni qu’elle soit une cause inefficace : il ne croit pas, en effet, que la fortune distribue aux hommes le bien et le mal, suffisant ainsi à faire leur bonheur et leur malheur, il croit seulement qu’elle leur fournit l’occasion et les éléments de grands biens et de grands maux ; (135) enfin il pense qu’il vaut mieux échouer par mauvaise fortune, après avoir bien raisonné, que réussir par heureuse fortune, après avoir mal raisonné – ce qui peut nous arriver de plus heureux dans nos actions étant d’obtenir le succès par le concours de la fortune lorsque nous avons agi en vertu de jugements sains.
O. Hamelin
En ce qui concerne le hasard, le sage ne le considère pas, à la manière de la foule, comme un dieu, car rien n’est accompli par un dieu d’une façon désordonnée, ni comme une cause instable. Il ne croit pas que le hasard distribue aux hommes, de manière à leur procurer la vie heureuse, le bien ou le mal, mais qu’il leur fournit les éléments des grands biens ou des grands maux. Il estime qu’il vaut mieux mauvaise chance en raisonnant bien que bonne chance en raisonnant mal. Certes, ce qu’on peut souhaiter de mieux dans nos actions, c’est que la réalisation du jugement sain soit favorisé par le hasard.
Maurice Solovine
The plethora of diverging translations is attributable to variations in the source text. As explained by Tiziano Dorandi, editor of Diogenes Laertius: Lives of Eminent Philosophers where the Letter to Menoeceus is preserved, there is a rich history of reconstruction:
In 1925, Robert Drew Hicks published an 'eclectic' edition accompanied by an English translation and a few critical and exegetical notes for the Loeb Classical Library. Hicks started out from the Cobetiana, but he retouched its text with some conjectures of his own and above all by taking into account more recent and reliable editions of single books or champtes of Diogenes' Lives. [Cobetiana = edition produced by Carel Gabreil Cobet and published in Paris in 1850]
Diogenes Laërtius Lives of Eminent Philosophers, edited by Tiziano Dorandi, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, vol. 50)
Dorandi reserves in the outline of the principles to his edition a section to the "Epicurea" and the problem of desiring to restore the words themselves (ipsa verba) of Epicurus editing Laertius with a view to the witnesses of the secondary tradition. But "[t]he editor of the Lives as a whole must follow a different path so as to avoid tampering with the evidence and publishing a text that has little or nothing to do with that written by Diogenes." The task is daunting: "the centuries-old chain of transmission of Epicurus' writings, not free of errors, corruption, interpolations and modifications of language, content and perhaps even thought" and the task of the editor is to correct wisely where possible and in "other cases [where] the text is irremediably corrupt and no proposed correction seems fully convincing, even if one is not going beyond the 'traditional' aim of getting back to the manuscript of Epicurus used by Diogenes; these passages have been obelized."

History offers us Cyril Bailey Epicurus: The Extant Remains with Short Critical Apparatus, Translation and Notes (Oxford, 1926) who in his commentary reviewed the editorial choices of predecessors and set out his own conjecture "I believe that once again homoeoteleuton has caused a loss of some words and that Epicurus wrote something like [...]" and his attention to the Greek gives us this English...
For it is better in a man's actions that what is well chosen (should fail, rather than that what is ill chosen) would be successful owing to chance.
A little aside on homeoteleuton "As the scribe was reading the original text, his eyes would skip from one word to the same word on a later line, leaving out a line or two in the transcription. When transcripts were made of the scribe's flawed copy (and not the original) errors are passed on into posterity." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeoteleuton

Back to the passages at issue. Russel M. Geer follows Bailey, finessing the parenthesis to make it more mobile (i.e. makes the surround text readable without):
for it is better that what has been well-planned in our actions (should fail than that what has been ill-planned) should gain success by chance.
I am still entranced by the balanced beauty of Peter Saint-Andre's rendition "it is better for a beautiful choice to have the wrong results than for an ugly choice to have the right results just by chance." And in this I am aided by chance (and a library).

And so for day 1301
06.07.2010

Chained to Change

I was reading an entry at jill/txt about generations to come. "Can you imagine that the world will change?" broaches the topic of a "future deficit" and the consequences of the "broad present" [Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. The Broad Present: Time and Contemporary Culture] and I found myself commenting:

An open question: how does one go from the concept of future deficit or broad present to musing about the futility of activisim? I ask because the always available past along with a “closed future” might lead one to favour local engagement and/or a politics of sustainibility. Reparation need not be stagnation.
And by pure serendipity, I read from the last century, a sign of hope:
Barry eschews the old fashioned rhetoric of alienation as well as the slick gloss of postmodern simulation both of which produce passivity; one through a freezing of the will in the face of futility; the other through a belief that there are no successful strategies for intervention. By contrast, her work continues to argue passionately for attention, criticism and action within the social sphere.
Johanna Drucker, “Spectacle and Subjectivity: the work of Judith Barry,” Public Fantasy: an anthology of critical essays, fictions and project descriptions. London, 1991
Still the question remains, what propels?
However, if this flood of success were to miraculously occur tomorrow, if I were then easily able to pay my few bills and no longer had to read these endless letters of rejection, I also fear it would make little difference to my mood or to my life. My life might improve, might even improve considerably, but I suspect I would feel more or less the same. I get home and I check the mail. Today the mailbox is empty, there is nothing. I unlock my apartment and go inside.
The final lines of a story by Jacob Wren. "Four Letters from an Ongoing Series" in If our wealth is criminal then let's live the criminal joy of pirates
The title is a phrase echoed in the book, in the self-same story we have quoted from here. But in the story the sentence, authored by an intern in the body of a rejection letter to our narrator, continues "If our wealth is criminal then let's live the criminal joy of pirates or fight to the death to bring a sliver of more justice into being."
Change. Will. Imagination.

Not always connected.

Not always connected to each other.

Connected, all of them, to carrying on.

And so for day 1300
05.07.2010

Marking: A Gain

Alerted by the work of Jim Andrews (http://vispo.com/bp/jim.htm), Lori Emerson [Reading Writing Interfaces alerts further readers of the remarks in the code of bp nichol's First Screening

[...]
116 REM FOR FURTHER RE-MARKS LIST 3900,4000
[...]
3900 REM ARK
3905 REM BOAT
3910 REM AIN
3915 REM RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN
3920 REM BOAT
3925 REM ARK
3930 REM BOW
3935 REM ARC
4000 END
Arc-en-ciel = rainbow

After 40 occurrences (as pointed out by Lori Emerson) of RAIN recalling forty days and forty nights of the stuff falling in the Biblical tale of Noah.

Off-screen. Centre of mind.

<!-- ACCESS HTML Source -->
<!-- LOOK -->
<!-- SEE -->
<!-- Earth Washing -->
<!-- http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/dwr.htm -->
<!-- SAW -->

And so for day 1299
04.07.2010

Rage & Ridicule

Joseph Addison places a quotation from Menander at the head of his essay on the "Uses and abuses of ridicule". The quotation in translation reads: "Ill-timed laughter is a grave evil among mortals."

Addison remarks that "Laughter is indeed a very good counter-poise to the spleen ´[...]" which brings me to present this excerpt from a satiric poem by Lionel Kearns who observes that rich kids get more toys than the poor and who calls for a switching of colours.

CHRISTMAS POEM

Santa Claus, having considered
your distribution policy in detail
we have at last discovered
your true political colour.
[...]
and as far as we're concerned
you can take your red suit
and cram it, because we prefer green.
It's Robin Hood's colour
Kearns here reminds be of Gwen Hauser at her best. In both there percolates the not so hidden injuries of class. Laughter doesn't always chase away spleen.
Then all the bells at once ring out in furious clang,
Bombarding heaven with howling, horrible to hear,
Like lost and wandering souls, that whine in shrill harangue
Their obstinate complaints to an unlistening ear.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (1936)
Des cloches tout à coup sautent avec furie
Et lancent vers le ciel un affreux hurlement,
Ainsi que des esprits errants et sans patrie
Qui se mettent à geindre opiniâtrement.

Charles Baudelaire Spleen
"Geindre" has connotations of recrimination ... a hurling back of insults and accusations. More complaint than plaint.

Ill-timed for the listening ear: a flowering of evil.

And so for day 1298
03.07.2010

Prognostication

From an old journal entry, copied in letters to friends, a fascination meteorological.

Cool Weather Ahead.

Slowly with the cool weather signs of spring unfold. Very happy to see the tips of tulips but sad that the snowdrops, those hardy harbingers, are gone. And the tiny cups of crocuses are already battered by the rains. One pleasure fades, another arises.

And a whole week of showers to come!
There followed hellebore and sanguinaria.

And so for day 1297
02.07.2010

Infinity Interrupted

Out of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a passage describing the blockages.

It is interesting to note that the these two societal obstacles to flow, anomie and alienation, are functionally equivalent to the two personal pathologies, attentional disorders and self-centredness. At both levels, the individual and the collective, what prevents flow from occurring is either the fragmentation of attentional processes (as in anomie and attentional disorders), or their excessive rigidity (as in alienation and self-centredness). At the individual level anomie corresponds to anxiety, while alienation corresponds to boredom.
And a few pages later we are presented with a potential antidote
Music, which is organized auditory information, helps organize the mind that attends to it, and therefore reduces psychic entropy, or the disorder we experience when random information interferes with goals. Listening to music wards off boredom and anxiety, and when seriously attended to, it can induce flow experiences.
Cue Metal Machine Music and a locked groove.

And so for day 1296
01.07.2010