Full Senses Five and Fine Company

Deborah Madison

A meal engages all the senses. Although we tend to consider the taste of the food to be primary, our enjoyment is made up of many parts: the aroma of cooking food that can fill a room, the colors of the various dishes, subtle or bright, and the different textures, soft and silky or chewy and dense. Even sounds can be enticing, such as the crackling of parchment-wrapped vegetables or the sizzling of a sauté. The food itself, its presentation, the sequence of courses — all these elements work together to capture the attention of those eating and to involve them in the pleasures of the table. The meal should do just that and no more, so that conversation and conviviality are not overwhelmed by food that requires homage. The perfect meal is one that draws people together with dishes that may be delicious, even gorgeous, but then lets them go so they can enjoy one another's company.
Peroration to the Introduction to The Greens Cookbook.

And so for day 1569
31.03.2011

Forkless

Barmecide feasts trace their origin to a tale in the Arabian Nights where a rich prince serves a beggar an imaginary banquet.

With that in mind, I present a vignette from Fat by Jennifer McLagan "Bread and Point".

While bread and dripping was the threatened punishment for my childhood misdemeanors, it would not have been as bad as "bread and point," which was a common expression in our family. My grandfather, undoubtedly exaggerating for dramatic effect and to make us understand how well off we grandchildren were, used to tell us that all he had as a child was "bread and point." And just what was that? It was a slice of bread at which you pointed your knife because you didn't have either butter or dripping to spread upon it.
We encounter a variation "potatoes and point" as recorded in the Dictionary of Prince Edward Island English edited by T.K. Pratt.
Noun phrase. Also bread and point, bread and think, tatties and point. Humorous. Occasional in Egmont, infrequent or rare elsewhere; unattested under thirty; especially Irish, less educated. Compare pork and jerk. A scanty meal, during which scarce or costly food is only pointed at or imagined. The phrase is also reported in Cape Breton.
Pratt also gives the expression "bread and skip" as in "bread and molasses, and skip the molasses".

And so for day 1568
30.03.2011

Form Follows Function: Clothes Free the Imagination

Some lines from Li Ho [Li He] (791-817) "The Grave of Little Su" translated by A. C. Graham in Poems of the Late T'ang

Grass like a cushion,
The pine like a parasol:
The wind is a skirt,
The waters are tinkling pendants.
recall for some strange reason Robert Herrick (1591–1674) "Upon Julia's Clothes"
Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
It was not for so strange a reason: the wind and skirt in combination reminded me of liquefaction and hence to the title and the juxtaposition we find here. Not so far apart for in some translations from the Chinese the images reference clothes.
Grass for her cushions,
Pines for her awning,
Wind as her skirts,
Water as girdle-jades.
"Su Hsiao-hsiao's Tomb" translated by John A. Turner inA Golden Treasure of Chinese Poetry: 121 classical poems.

And so for day 1567
29.03.2011

Mastectomy

Phil Hall
Why I Haven't Written
"One Breast"

Opening stanza and closing stanza.

Amazons had them removed
like this. But they chose to.

[…]

The enemy has provided you with room
for a weapon. If we can find one.
The poignancy of the piece results from the movement into apostrophe (from mere description of the Amazons) and then into the intensification of a commitment of a shared destiny — "we" sonorously laid close to "one". We somehow know that the true weapon (like the true enemy) is shaped of words …

And so for day 1566
28.03.2011

The Ecology of Quotation

Sometimes I am not so sharp in recording the details of where and when I have come across some interesting tidbit. Take for example

Beyond the need for the City to conform to the Provincial Policy Statement, and the desire of many residents to have natural heritage within their community, an often overlooked benefit of preserving natural heritage in urban and urbanizing areas lies in the ability of these areas to provide a wide range of “ecological services” not typically quantified or valued in conventional analyses. These services include groundwater protection, water treatment, flood control, and air quality improvement, and in some forums have begun to be considered as a vital component of a municipality’s infrastructure and given the specific label of “green infrastructure” or “natural capital” (e.g., Benedict and McMahon 2002; Oleweiler 2004; Wilkie and Roach 2004; Ewing and Kostyack 2005).

Benedict M.A. and McMahon E.T. 2002. Green Infrastructure: Smart Conservation for the 21st Century. Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse Monograph Series. URL: www.sprawlwatch.org (verified June 2007).

Olewiler, N. 2004. The Value of Natural Capital in Settled Areas of Canada. Published by Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 36 pp.

Wilkie, K. and R. Roach. 2004. The Benefits of Urban Natural Capital: A Natural Capital Project Discussion Paper - Green Among the Concrete. Published by the Canada West Foundation, Calgary AB, April 2004, 19 p.

Ewing, R. and J. Kostyack. 2005. Endangered by Sprawl: How Runaway Development Threatens America’s Wildlife. Published by National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America and Nature Serve, Washington D.C., January 2005, 53 p.
This appears to be about the City which given the reference to the Provincial Policy Statement is "Toronto" but it could be any large municipality in the Province of Ontario. Running the references through a search engine does not net the document in question but does bring me a document about the urban forest in Guelph.
The urban forest has been recognized as a visual amenity and for its environmental benefits for several decades, but has only recently begun to be considered as a vital component of a municipality’s infrastructure, and given the specific label of “green infrastructure” or “natural capital” (e.g., Benedict and McMahon 2002; Wilkie and Roach 2004; Ewing and Kostyack 2005).

http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/Framework-for-Strategic-Urban-Forest-Mgmt-Plan.pdf
Ideas like citations travel in packs.

Interesting to note that my unidentified City grey literature records verification of the Sprawl Watch monograph as being done in June 2007. Also the case with the Guelph paper. Some people were sharing info to construct their best policy advice. Or the search engines were directing them to the same sources.

And so for day 1565
27.03.2011

After the Chinese

Choices.

A.C. Graham, Introduction to Poems of the Late T'ang

Because of this combination of phonetic poverty and graphic wealth the system of meanings and associations touched off by a Chinese word inheres not in its sound structure but in the construction of the character. […] It is rather difficult to estimate this effect since a habitual reader of Chinese is hardly conscious of it without deliberately analysing his reactions, just as the reader of an English poem may not notice that the spelling of SPHINX, by marking it as a Greek borrowing, has effects which would be damaged by spelling it SFINKS. Certainly one can give too much weight to the visual aspect of Chinese writing. Poems in China, as elsewhere, are firstly patterns of sound, and many verse forms have begun as song forms; it is untrue, for example, that a poet will choose a word for the appearance of its character in the poem seen as a piece of calligraphy. But it is reasonable to say that the character does exert a sort of visual onomatopoeia, stimulating the eye […] Obviously, there is no way of reproducing this effect short of inventing a similar system of logographic writing for English.
What is called for here is a sensitivity to semantic fields whether they are conveyed visually or vocally. And it was Graham's introduction in mind that my sight was arrested by Anne-Marie Wheeler's version of a line from Nicole Brossard's Aviva (Nomados, 2008).
all awakening of being in he(a)r hair
for
toute d'éveil d'être en ses cheveux ouïe
By ear, Wheeler's he(a)r introduces a being present by homophony ("here"). A worthy enrichment which replaces the French's play between "hearing" and "yes".

yes all waking being through her hair hearing yes

And so for day 1564
26.03.2011

Backwards into E-evidence

The poet brings us through manipulation of the stuff of language to consider our investments. In particular, to meditate upon the meaning of evidence. Suffice it to say that his discourse on e-gap turns towards the end on agape …

Agape — as if the mouth were wide open — as if the page wide open — were ready for anything we might say or do to it — for it
Including the reverse reading we have encountered on preceding pages …
Page backwards spells a new word — egap — & we half-understand such e-words now

There is an egap in our relation to writing on paper this day — perhaps it has always been there

Example — what of the strangeness of electronic signatures — the hand has not been a shadow or weight on that page — the written has been photographed & clipped & pasted

There is an egap between the legend of John Hancock & the legend of rag-paper

Or what of the persisting cult of the signed copy — what is treasured is the evidence of the maker's body having been a shadow over that copy of that book — she wrote it & was here & left a tracing
Phil Hall Notes From Gethsemani: Inaugural Page Lecture - in Honour of Joanne Page Queen's University - November 14, 2012 Vancouver: Nomados, 2014. [The Gethsemani in question is the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky where Thomas Merton, worked, studied and prayed. And, of course, wrote.]

And so for day 1563
25.03.2011

Frequenting the Fragment

Amy Vladeck Heinrich notes in Fragments of Rainbows: The Life and Poetry of Saitō Mokichi 1882-1953 that in one specific instance "The verb 'echoing' is added to the translation because English is not as comfortable with sentence fragments and their implied conclusions as is Japanese" (p. 84). Here then is the poem.

otōto to
aimukai ite
mono o iu
katami no koe wa
chichi haha no koe

My brother and I
sit facing one another,
speaking of things;
our voices to each other's ears
echoing our parents' voices …
Let's see what happens when the explicit reference to echoing is removed.
My brother and I
sit facing one another,
speaking of things;
our voices to each other's ears
our parents' voices …
And a further tweak carrying over into English the gendered "chichi haha"
My brother and I
sit facing one another,
speaking of things;
our voices to each other's ears
mother's and father's voices …
And so these considerations of fragments led us to
SENTENCE FRAGMENT A group of words that ends with a period but lacks either a subject or a main verb; a subordinate clause or a phrase or a single word standing by itself. Here are some examples of fragments (in one line of Geoffrey Hill's "Mercian Hymns"):
A pet-name, a common name. Best-selling brand, curt graffito. A laugh; a cough. A syndicate. A specious gift. Scoffed-at horned phonograph.
A sentence fragment is a mistake, if used carelessly, but a valuable device if used expressively or rhythmically (See FRAGMENT and FRAGMENTATION.)
John Drury. Poetry Dictionary.

And so for day 1562
24.03.2011

I remember the colour of forget-me-not is light blue

I don't remember what the rest of the book is about (except for that dig at a passage from William Gass On Being Blue which forces me back to re-reading the book which is now a foggy mass in my memory as faded as the spine of the book).

156. "Why is the sky blue?" — A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it remains me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.
Maggie Nelson Bluets

But that passage about the Gass passage, comes back to the fore. It has caught the attention of a number of reviewers including Jocelyn Parr in Brick 94
A critical examination of Nelson’s irreverence reveals how her writing heralds a new kind of order. Just as we’ve not heard enough about the female gaze, we’ve heard too much about the male gaze and all the ways that it disciplines the female body. Nelson establishes the new order by taking down the old one. William Gass, an icon of sexual freedom, writes that readers who want to see under the skirt will only be disappointed:
“What good is my peek at her pubic hair if I must also see the red lines made by her panties, the pimples on her rump, broken veins like the print of a lavender thumb, the stepped-on look of a day’s-end muff ? I’ve that at home.”
In a delicious about-face, Nelson accuses Gass (of all people!) of puritanism: “This is puritanism, not eros,” she says, thereby founding her own moral order (Puritanism is bad! Eros is good!). She defies Gass, the glossy magazines, and anything that would do less than celebrate the female body in all its ways:
For my part I have no interest in catching a glimpse of or offering you an unblemished ass or an airbrushed cunt. I am interested in having three orifices stuffed full of thick, veiny cock in the most unforgiving of poses and light.
Nelson knows that the gaze is a position of power, and she wants women to adopt it. Women should have the right to look at what they want, and they should have the right to be seen as they are. Earlier, I said Nelson’s writing is political. I should have said it is feminist.
Oddly, Nelson declares in the context of distancing herself from Gass "I will not choose between the blue things of the world and the words that say them."

Well, neither does William Gass. The passage from which Nelson excises the voyeuristic moment is to be found in section IV of On Being Blue. It opens with a thought experiment of being in the possession of Gyges's ring which imparts invisibility. It spies upon the neighbours unloading groceries; describes at length the depictions in the pattern of blue willow china; in contemplating the non-quarrelling pair there is a digression about being scorched by a blue flame whose burning ends with the remark that "My emotions may be mistaken sometimes, but each is the integration of a very complex and continually changing set of relations only temporarily stabilized this time in a blinding run of tears." There follow thoughts on the logical layers of emotion before the text turns again to view the woman at the sink preparing salad. Many more paragraphs about the nature of fiction ("The push toward blue in fiction has persisted from the beginning.") And then we get the passage that generated Nelson's scrutiny … and its continuation.
I've that at home. No. Vishnu is blue in all his depictions. Lord Krishna too. Yes. the blue we bathe in is the blue we breathe. The blue we breathe, I fear, is what we want from life and only find in fiction. For the voyeur, fiction is what's called going all the way.

[…]

Thus between the aesthetically irrelevant demands of the reader and the aesthetically crippling personal worries of the writer, sexuality reaches literature as an idée fixe, an artifically [sic] sweetened distortion or an outright lie, while the literature itself leaks quality like a ruptured pipe.
What is perhaps more intriguing is how the context of the "peek at her pubic" is set up by Gass as impatience with the long stretches of time where nothing happens. (Hyperrealism is here the target.)
Impatient, we can't wait for nature to take its course. When we take our textual tour through the slums, we want crime, violence, starvation, disease, not hours of just sitting around. We want the world to be the world we read about in the papers: all news. What good is my ring if the couple I am using it to spy on make love in darkness once a month, and then are quick, inept, and silent? Better rob banks. The money is always there. What good is my peek at her pubic hair if […]
If Gass cavils agains the longeurs, Nelson is too quick to promote hard core, hard core simplicity.

And so for day 1561
23.03.2011

The Dark Side of Green

I have harvested fresh watercress from stream beds — and then enjoyed its pungent taste raw. I've also mastered the technique of flash frying watercress in a wok. It turns a splendid emerald that some would call jade.

I found the following delightful bit of lore in Bert Greene's Greene on Greens.

WATERCRESS can scarcely be dubbed a "garden green" since it requires a babbling brook or a small stream close by to feed its thirsty roots. Watercress thrives best in the shade, a fact that has given it something of a bad name in the past. There was a theory (held by all Puritan diners) that since this plant was grown in the darkness it was a living example of deviltry, "and no consumer of its leaves would profit with good health lest it was mingled with foodstuffs harvested in pure sunlight." Which may explain in part why a stalk of watercress hardly ever arrives on a salad plate without a leaf of lettuce nearby!
I don't know about serving watercress with lettuce but I do like mine served sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds — my touch of the sun.

And so for day 1560
22.03.2011

Particular Particularities

When are bodies the body's?

It's a turn of phrase associated with Jinny in Virginia Woolf's The Waves. I first thought there might be a topographical error in the edition I was using. Then I noticed the hook was homophonic.

But my imagination is the bodies. I can imagine nothing beyond the circle cast by my body. My body goes before me, like a lantern down a dark lane, bringing one thing after another out of darkness into a ring of light. I dazzle you; I make you believe that this is all.
The phrase comes later in its other form.
I do not temper my beauty with meanness lest it should scorch me. I gulp it down entire. It is made of flesh; it is made of stuff. My imagination is the body's.
The body's bodies.

And so for day 1559
21.03.2011

Pondering the Potable

Reprinted in Intertwining, John K. Grande's review of the 1992 Paul Grégoire show "Alzheimer Social" at the Circa Gallery in Montreal likens the work to other artists.

Paul Grégoire's creations recall Edward Kienholz's Pop art recreation of aging insomniacs in The State Hospital (who cannot dream of another reality than their own) […] His [Grégoire's] disappointment is as much with his own self-constructed illusions of reality as with the status quo of the species homo sapiens.
Impelled by Grande's allusion, I sought out more information about The State Hospital piece and found Shelly Couvrette providing this description. http://www.cat-sidh.net/Writing/Kienholz.html (no mention of insomnia)
When giving the piece a superficial glance, all that is visible is a large, crate-like box. Details do not become obvious until one looks more closely. The form of the box creates a hulking, institutional-white outer shell. Closer observation reveals a padlocked door in the center of the front wall. In this door is a small, square, window with three bars. High in the upper left-hand corner of the wall is a sign reading WARD 19.

One must approach the barred window to see inside. There is a smell of disinfectant spray. The room is lighted by a single, bare bulb dangling from the ceiling. The scene that it illuminates is repulsive.

There are two identical figures lying on institutional-issue, metal bunk-beds, one upon each bed. Each is shackled to the frame of his bed by a leather strap and wrist-cuff. Their bodies are a pus-like yellow color, roughly rendered with congealed drips and lumps of resin. The figures have the appearance of emaciated mummies. Their bodies rest on thin, blue and white striped mattresses that are filthy and ragged. The figure resting on the upper bunk is encased in a elliptical neon tube; a thought bubble from a comic strip. The tube glows an ominous red. The heads of the men are made from illuminated fish-bowls. Two black fish swim in each bowl. There is a small, and apparently purposeless, hospital-issue bedside table against one wall. A bedpan rests on the floor, but it is not within reach of the bed.
On formal grounds, I agree with a rapprochment between Kienholz and Grégoire (both refigure and pose human forms) but am troubled by the interpretative twist that hints at a strong dose of misanthropy. I think Grégoire demonstrates mirth.

Grande would agree (though I think that there is more mirth than Grande would attest). In his penultimate paragraph he states that "[t]he most lighthearted pieces in the show are those that simply poke fun at the old-fashioned avant-gardist notions of art." As proof of the case he suggests an intertextual relation to the work of Hans Haacke.
Likewise, Grégoire's plexiglass cube of water that carries the caption "J'ai soif (I am thirsty)" inverts Hans Haacke's minimalist motif on encubed condensation to send it straight back from whence it came, to let nature have the final word.
But allow a word from Haacke …
I have partially filled Plexiglas containers of a simple stereometric form with water and have sealed them. The intrusion of light warms the inside of the boxes. Since the inside temperature is always higher that the surrounding temperature, the water enclosed condenses: a delicate veil of drops begins to develop on the inside walls.

At first they are so small that one can distinguish single drops from only a very close distance. The drops grow, hour by hour, small ones combine with larger ones. The speed of growth depends on the intensity and the angle of the intruding light. After a day, a dense cover of clearly defined drops has developed and they all reflect light. With continuing condensation, some drops reach such a size that their weight overcomes the forces of adhesion and they run down along the walls, leaving the trace. This trace starts to grow together again. Weeks after, manifold traces, running side by side, have developed. According to their respective age, they have drops of varying sizes. The process of condensation does not end.

The box has a constantly but slowly changing appearance that never repeats itself. The conditions are comparable to a living organism that reacts in a flexible manner to its surroundings. The image of condensation cannot be precisely predicted. It is changing freely, bound only by statistical limits. I like this freedom.

HANS HAACKE, 1965
http://www.macba.cat/en/condensation-cube-1523
And now a picture

I have been unable to access the archives of the Circa Gallery for 1992 to find an image to document Grégoire's cube. The one that sends us back to nature. I have however found in the artist's own documentation of his sculptural work a 1984 piece with the similar title, "Le grand cri de la soif".

Bas relief réalisé lors de l'événement «Peinture en direct 4X6», au Musée d'art contemporain, à Montréal en 1984. (Moulage sur corps humain. Plâtre peint, vinyle, acrylique, verres remplies de sable) [hand holding glass filled with sand]

Intertexts. Condensations. Displacements. All with the thirst of a light heart.

And so for day 1558
20.03.2011

Chopping and Tossing

Mollie Katzen. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest "Improvisation Notes"

Cooking is a very personal statement, whether you follow a recipe, vary it, or invent your own altogether. The same recipe made by different people on different days and in different kitchens can taste new each time. There always seems to be an personal touch — a special elusive quality — from each individual cook.

The first step toward improvisation is to find some cookbooks that appeal to you and just read them without necessarily cooking any of the recipes. This will help you to understand basic procedures and principles of cooking.

Then make a commitment to really notice and taste good food, to ask questions of other cooks, and to become deeply familiar with your own preferences. Your comfort and "vocabulary" will quickly grow, and you will find yourself more and more able to vary recipes, or even to cook without them at all.
Similar advice applies to writing.

The foraged ingredients from J.W. Hackett Haiku Poetry Volume One:
That old empty house,
   now overgrown with years,
      is the only real one here.
Adapted to the Berneval kitchen:
That empty old house,
overgrown now with years,
is here the only real one.
Interesting parallels between sensitivity to syntax and to cooking times.

And so for day 1557
19.03.2011

Diuretic Diectics

Thoughts on Garry Thomas Morse Streams LINEbooks, 2007.

There is a lot of coffee consumed in this book of prose poems. Each is a cup.

Why you may ask that these textual units should be considered as a cup: some crumplable like paper; others refining crucibles; others relating their contents as if through some Surrealist vases communicants?

Percolation is the answer and so is passing water.

Black jet streams and golden showers.

And no, this is not the craving to pee all over you but rather to mark you in some way with my anonymous black coffee breath as excellent as eating and preserve your brown and red lines of colour in the exact correct moment on the way back just before a tire plashes right through. [no. 71 p. 49]
This "you" is a woman.
You are by no means defined by my want and the ways the tip of my tongue wants to shape your skin. But you are the woman in the window in the bed in the adjoining room. And the time is ripe as the date you are tasting. The coffee is concentrated on the table in physic and colour and osmosis but my limbs and palms are boiling and I am dreaming of spooning and cupping your sleeping form. [no. 73 p. 51]
And as to be expected with this sort of coffee service that is highly eroticized there is a moment of identification with the writing process itself.
phrases not formally invited […] Blow upon them until they cool but do not worry. I taste them for poison first. [no. 76 p. 54]
Much relies on the formal folding of phrases and the remembering of sections — as if poured from carafe to cup — so that a welcome shock assaults the senses (both physical and semantic). Take for instance the elevator which smells of urine and then later the elevator that smells of ammonia. Same elevator? A sign of an attempt at cleansing? Or more pissing? Something remains in the gap between the prose poems. There is a stream passing between the cups and it is difficult to apprehend. So too sometimes the stream between words.
I do not want more than this cup of black coffee warming my soft innards, save for that lightly pointed smile. […] So consider this evening in the voiceless dark how the general illusion of my life is worth less than this sublime unreality of your smile.
Note not "worthless" but "worth less" hence worth something.

Or sometimes the reader thinks that the there is a self-referential action at work or a straight-forward description. Take the following which recalls Eliot's The Wasteland and the passage about the crowd flowing (streams again) over London Bridge where we have a line-up in a coffee shop and a long line of poetry.
Already I am fuming and snorting in a line so long I had no idea sugar and coffee had undone so many. [no. 94 p. 70]
And now three from the earlier presented prose poems that touch upon the fluid notion of form.
And your hands were dearer than ampersands and were at utter liberty to attend to my felicity. [no. 15 p. 16]
And like a bureaucrat startled into a decision on the street, Love has decided to keep me alive in an infinitely long lineup, provided with a smile and then without one I have taken the time to fill in the appropriate forms. [no. 5 p. 9]
My youthful memories are mostly a barrel of mistaken loves and at that confusing age you had to shoplift what is these days virtually free although you might catch something. [no. 7 p. 11]
& free to establish felicity conditions & appropriate forms (appropriating attention) & filling in forms at the STD clinic [?]

Why conjure this pox-side of eros here at the beginning? Because at the end we find an allusion to Baudelaire (and by way of letting biography and oeuvre communicate) …
Forgive this necessary transgression and before it is too late, embrace me and grab hold, my sexy wicked semblable! But whatever you do, tread softly because you tread upon my streams.
There has been a shift in addressee "— Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!" [by way of Eliot's warning about sprouting corpses?]

treading = t-reading

Other beverages competing in a cross-reading?

But how could they? Despite the allusions to Proust there is no tea, no tisane. Indeed, in the last of the prose poems in the collection (no. 99) we are given the delightful word Kaffeeschlafen in the context of recounting the beautiful death of a grandmother, in the sense of a belle mort, and so we are sent off to dream or read again. To sip. To slip. To stream.
This is the art and the square root of all my erraticisms. [no. 68, p. 47]
And wonder who this speaking voice might be that is produced by Garry Thomas Morse Streams LINEbooks, 2007

And so for day 1556
18.03.2011

Heap Sleep

1896 Summer

Amid a jumble of
tanka books, haiku books —
noonday nap
From Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems translated by Burton Watson

That is the view of my bedside pile. All prepped for a nap.

And so for day 1555
17.03.2011

Filiation, Forebears, Forgers

1970s. It was a time of searching for ancestors. (Roots - Alex Haley).

"A literary ancestry long denied"

D.D.C. [Douglas] Chambers reviewed three books of poetry: Orgasms of Light: The Gay Sunshine Anthology edited by Winston Leyland, The Dead Slave and other poems of Martial by Kenneth Hopkins, Uranian Roses by Tom [Thomas] Meyer, in The Body Politic May 78, Issue 43, p16. He plays upon this trope of forebears to give depth to comparisons of worth. Note here his framing of Hopkins's little book from Catalyst Press.

What is good about this is that it draws our attention, as does Kenneth Hopkins's collection of epigrams by Martial, The Dead Slave, to our literary ancestry long denied. It is surprising enough that these poems have never before been translated; it is even more surprising that the translations are good enough to merit comparison with the work of Ben Jonson or John Donne, the great English imitators of Martial.
Chambers with his use of italics is here winking at the pretense of translation and vouching for the authentic value of imitation. [Hopkins's imitation was indeed fabrication.]

As David Mason reports in a review of Books in the Blood: Memoirs of a Fourth Generation Bookseller about Anthony Rota, a friend of Kenneth Hopkins.
This account is tinged with sadness for me because one of those days is spent travelling to consult about the dispersal of the library, after his death, of his old friend [and mine] the poet, writer and book collector Kenneth Hopkins. Hopkins, a man of great charm and enormous learning, was poor all his life except in friends and books. He wrote several books on the history of English poetry and several volumes of poetry himself. He once published [in Toronto, incidentally] a pamphlet with some newly discovered poems by the Roman poet Martial which were very favourably reviewed in an academic journal, a review which greatly delighted Kenneth since the publication was a fraud, all the poems attributed to Martial having been composed by Kenneth himself. They were good poems too, even the reviewer said so.

Hopkins, too poor to collect the major poets in England, got the idea to build a collection of minor poets of the nineteenth century. During many years haunting bookshops, he had bought every book of nineteenth-century poetry he saw which was by an obscure or unknown poet. Because of this Hopkins had a comfortable old age, for after many years amassing this huge collection, Rota sold it for him to an American university that like most of the others had neglected the minor poets while they sought the major ones. At the risk of appearing to be one of that ignoble breed, a punster, I cannot help saying that this seems to me to be a perfect example of 'poetic justice'. This is also one of the best examples I know of which confutes the erroneous view that one must be wealthy to build an important collection. Not money but imagination and passion are the real essentials of successful book collecting, as Hopkins proved. He ended his life travelling, dining with friends and, of course, buying books. Rota reports that despite the space created by such a massive sale, at his death Hopkins' house was once again overflowing, bursting with books.
Before turning to quote from Hopkins, one epigram from Thomas Meyer in one of the other books reviewed by Chambers. From Uranian Roses with its pleasant tender double entrendre
If he doesn't come
in the next hour
it's all off.

I he shows up
tomorrow …

what's a day lost?
Hopkins's epigrams would answer — too late — for death is like a thief, day or night. These are the last three epigrams in The Dead Slave arranged in Hopkins's order but numbered as he says according to the manuscript which gives us two alternative orders or rather a double reading: one top to bottom, the second bottom to top as guided by the note on ordering.
Ep. XI

Perfect in grace, perfect in every limb,
The one thing wanting was but human breath;
Surely a kiss would breathe back life in him!
I never before thought beauty lived in death.


Ep X

They bore him from my presence, and I wept;
In my own bed that restless heart was stilled;
After he laughed, and tumbled as I willed,
I thought him sleeping, so I turned and slept.


Ep IX
They told me he was dead: I disbelieved;
How could my light go out, and nothing said?
He seemed immortal, but I was deceived;
Shall I, shall any live, and he lie dead?
I never thought beauty lived in death … and the cover by Lennel Goodwin attests that the signifier "dead" may be given grace and by such grace hint that "forge" relates not only to swords, partnerships and signatures but to poems enlivened by typography.



And so for day 1554
16.03.2011

The Art of Recounting Eco-Art

Deduction.

The outdoor eco-art effect is inimitable, the ultimate in theatre, a modest acceptance of nature's place in the creative process. The backdrop, be it in the city, a public space, a park, or the wilderness is effectively changing by the minute as the light, atmosphere, sound around us changes and generates a heightened sense of connectedness to the culture of nature because our own bodies are sensing all that change. Everything that surrounds us — plastic, wood, cement, glass, etc. — is nature transformed, in its original state or in the process of returning to nature. Nature is the art of which we are a part !
Induction.
The most radical forms of this kind of eco-art without walls are unsigned, undated and ephemeral, enacted in public or unclaimed transitional sites. A tree planter as well as an artist, Doug Buis' anonymous plantings of seedlings in Montreal which continue to grow imperceptibly are an example of how subtle an artist's interventions can be … but I have also seen an inukshuk on the highway 401 near Hamilton, Ontario on top of a hill, a beautiful sculpture of a dancer made of toilet paper and wire on rue Clark in Montreal that was washed away by the rain within a few days, a habitation on rue St. Denis built by an artist out of discarded wood and posters that was intermittently occupied by street people before it was torn down.
John K. Grande ""Eco-art Revisited" Intertwining: Landscape, Technology, Issues, Artists.

And so for day 1553
15.03.2011

The Bite of Momordica charantia

There is a lyrical moment in a poem that reports the mashing of names and the misnaming of persons. This is not it:

it happens all the time.
it's in the name.
it's in the face.

orientals so hard to tell apart.
This is it.
our faces,
strong, brown,
different as
the bumps
on the skin of
bittermelon.
our tongues,
sharp and fragrant
as ginger,
And the poem goes on to further celebrate further acts of resistance.

"It's In The Name" by Kitty Tsui in The Words of a Woman Who Breathes Fire

And so for day 1552
14.03.2011

Rendering the Mellifluous

Judy Grahn had us reaching for the highest apple. But this picker did not at first notice this proverb preserved by Tryphon quoting the Lesbian poet until taking note of its placement by Stanley Lombardo (2002) who sets it as number 39 in his selection (Sappho: poems and fragments] — rearranging the order out of David Campbell's 1982 Loeb edition ("Having translated these pieces, I felt compelled to order and arrange them into a collection with some kind of esthetic coherence."). He gives us

For me neither honey nor the honey bee
Neither sweet nor sting?

I leave you to discover the comb — the matrix — that Lombardo builds round this fragment which escapes the cloying two liner by A.S. Kline.
Neither for me the honey
Nor the honeybee…
Lombardo's assonance achieves through sound an image of the honey comb's hexagonal cells.

Jim Powell (2007) renders it in three lines
For me
neither the honey
nor the bee.
Which with its end rhymes comes close. But Lombardo's repeated "honey" buzzes and drizzles sweetness on the tongue.

And so for day 1551
13.03.2011

Vegetable Symbolism

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. From the Earth: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking

Scallions were chung, and were to be considered wise because the characgter for "wise" translated as chung ming. And why were they wise? Because scallions are long and hollow, and their hollowness connotes an open mind, open to knowledge, receptive to thought.
Pascal's "rouseau pensant" — "open mind is not empty mind" is often rehearsed.

And so for day 1550
12.03.2011

Celebrated in Poetry and Free to Cerebrate

Clerihew - a biographical bit of fun that rhymes on the run. I like how this one fits into the flow of prose and contributes to the picture of the genius free to roam.

With the backing of John Maynard Keynes, he was elected a Fellow of King’s College in 1935, at the age of twenty-two. When the news reached his old school, the boys celebrated with a clerihew: “Turing / Must have been alluring / To get made a don / So early on.” With a stipend, no duties, and High Table dining privileges, he was free to follow his intellectual fancy. That spring, attending lectures in the foundations of mathematics, he was introduced to a deep and unresolved matter known as the “decision problem.” A few months later, during one of his habitual runs, he lay down in a meadow and conceived a sort of abstract machine that settled it in an unexpected way.
Jim Holt. "Code-Breaker: The life and death of Alan Turing" The New Yorker, February 6, 2006.

And so for day 1549
11.03.2011

Combination Therapy: Memes and Narration Health

Paulo Freire's remarks in the fourth chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed (translated by Myra Bergman Ramos) about theories of cultural action are interesting starting points to think about "memes" [discursive carriers] and the processes of ideological adhesion. The remarks I have in mind turn on a situatedness (inside/outside) that perhaps needs to be refined. Freire writes:

The revolution is born as a social entity within the oppressor society; to the extent that it is cultural action, it cannot fail to correspond to the potentialities of the social entity in which it originated. Every entity develops (or is transformed) within itself, through the interplay of its contradictions. External conditioners, while necessary are effective only if they coincide with those potentialities. [Here there is a note to "See Mao Tse Tung op. cit.]
And so we find the 7th note of Chapter 3.
In a long conversation with Malraux, Mao Tse Tung declared "You know I've proclaimed for a long time: we must teach the masses clearly what we have received from them confusedly." André Malraux, Anti-Memoirs (New York, 1968) pp. 361-362.
Friere later on in Chapter 3 writes
It is as transforming and creative beings that men, in their permanent relations with reality, produce not only material goods — tangible objects — but also social institutions, ideas, and concepts. [Note to Karel Kosik]
It is out of the encounter of praxis and the concrete that dialogical approaches emerge. The Malraux - Mao note is anchored at the end of the following sentence:
For the dialogical problem-solving teacher-student, the program content of education is neither a gift nor an imposition — bits of information to be deposited in the students — but rather the organized, systematized, and developed "representation" to individuals of the things about which they want to know more. [Reference to Note #7]
Representation here could be read as a product as well as a process. This is helping me locate the source of my discomfort with the opening of Chapter 2, i.e. the remarks on the narrative of teacher-student relations.
A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness.
Reread from the perspective of the work of representation, I now realize it is not so much storytelling per se that is being faulted but a certain mode of narration. If there is such a thing as "narration sickness" might there not be narration health? Freire of course goes on to propose a prescription.

Narration health equivalent to interplay of readings? See Barthes S/Z on "character" being a product of combinations. Recombine with the notion of "meme".

And so for day 1548
10.03.2011

Syncretics

Call it a wheel and it moves.

It appears in the literature in the mid 1990s where its motion is more stationary and map-like.

It is a simple, concrete map that helps people decipher parts of their being and points the way to healing of mind, body, and spirit. This, in turn, helps people to live more wholesome, balanced lives.

Herb Nabigon and Anne-Marie Mawhiney "Aboriginal Theory: A Cree Medicine Wheel Guide for Healing First Nations" in Turner Social Worker Treatment 4th Edition (1996).

The medicine wheel figures in this article are accompanied (outside the circle) by the illustration of an eagle feather: "The eagle feather represents balance." The quadrant of the four directions is displayed with a centre.
A version of the medicine wheel makes its appearance in government policy — 1994 in Ontario in the Aboriginal Health Policy.

Here a concentric pattern maps onto the life cycle. The quadrant represents four dimensions: Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical, and spokes radiate to represent four possible health interventions: Promotion, Prevention, Curative, Rehabilitation. Note that the circle of "adults" is not separated out into "women" and "men" (see below).

In 2011, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services releases Stepping Stones: A Resource on Youth Development. The model is influenced by Aboriginal research.
The interrelated and interdependent nature of human development can be considered as a circle (Figure 1), in which growth in one domain impacts and is connected to the others (Simard, 2011; Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, 2011). […] Healthy development of the mind, body and spirit is—as our Aboriginal partners have long affirmed—contingent on balance and interconnectedness.
Stepping Stones places Self/Spirit at the hub. On the perimeter is the Environment/ Context. Distributed in the four quadrants are Social, Physical, Emotional and Cognitive. The Stepping Stones model is also referenced in the Ontario education curriculum (See Grade 1 to 6 Social Studies Curriculum Guide and the Grade 7 to 8 History and Geography http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/sshg18curr2013.pdf).


A look at sources.

Simard's diagram is almost identical (minus the presence of the "self" at the centre). "Developing a Culturally Restorative Approach to Aboriginal Child and Youth Development: Transitions to Adulthood" Estelle Simard, Shannon Blight in The First Peoples Child & Family Review Vol 6 No 1 (2011)

The OFIFC Position Paper "Our Sacred Responsibility - Protecting Aboriginal Children & Youth from Family Violence March 2011". Its view of the social environment offers a gendered perspective.

In "Setting the Context for Our Sacred Responsibility" the OFIFC paper offers an historical perspective:
Children were at the core of our societies and learned to see all things as interconnected and were given the responsibility to connect themselves in a respectful and caring way to everything around them at every moment and in every interaction. They were surrounded by Elders and grandparents as teachers, women as nurturers, and men as protectors.
The OFIFC paper puts forward an Aboriginal Resiliency framework based on the Cycle of Courage (Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity) developed by Martin Brokenleg and which places Culture at the centre.

Cross-cultural resonance from a variety of sources:

World Health Organization (WHO) 1947 Constitution defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

Earlier in the 20th century, post World War I, a holistic view is incorporated into the Waldorf schools:
The Steiner Waldorf early childhood approach takes as given the interdependence of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive development. It takes account of the whole child, including his/her soul qualities, and believes that children’s learning flourishes in a calm, peaceful, predictable, familiar and unhurried environment that recognises the child’s sensory sensitivities. Young children need to experience the relevance of their world before they separate themselves from it and begin to analyse it in a detached way. http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2011/10/Guide_to_the_EYFS_in_Steiner_Wardorf_settings1.pdf
Duane Elgin Voluntary Simplicity (1981; revised 1993)
Those choosing a simpler life: […] Tend to work on developing the full spectrum of their potentials: physical (running, biking, hiking, etc.), emotional (learning the skills of intimacy and sharing feelings in important relationships), mental (engaging in lifelong learning by reading, taking classes, etc.), and spiritual (learning to move through life with a quiet mind and compassionate heart).
As Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sources inform each other, there are many mappings to explore and images to encounter and words and more words to explain the workings.

And so for day 1547
09.03.2011

Thoroughly Rough

I first became alive to the potential of word splitting by reading Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology. This I came across years later and with no less thrill in the dis/covery.

indigenous culture was tho/roughly
                                       disrupted by
From Garry Thomas Morse in a poem about the painter Paul Kane collected in Prairie Harbour which has on its cover a reproduction of Wheat (1957 by Agnes Martin and I am reminded by the introductory remarks that Souvankham Thammavongsa gave to the podcast of her piece on on Agnes Martin’s Untitled #10 [Poets Spell Art, Recorded: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at the Art Gallery of Ontario] where she comments about her attraction to the painting mirroring her own interest in what can be accomplished by minimal means: "what a mind can build with what other people would call "little"".

Power of a single slash. To roughly hew the thoroughfare.

And so for day 1546
08.03.2011

Typologies of Criticism

In an interview with Ekbert Faas, Robert Bly mentions a piece he wrote that appeared in The American Poetry Review that draws on Jung.

I wrote an article for The American Poetry Review recently giving examples in poetry of the "four intelligences" Jung talks about. They are thinking, feeling, grasp of the senses, and intuition.
Curious and not wanting to wade through the microtext searching for an issue from the 1970s, I picked up Bly's collection American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity where he revisits the material in a piece called "The Wheel of Intelligence" and stresses that a poet develops maturity by addressing their inferior (or weakest) function. Very little space is devoted to developing or applying the typology.

When I came across the description by David Tacey, "Introduction to Part IV" The Jung Reader p. 295
In addition to the attitude-types, Jung designated four functions of consciousness: thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation. Sensation tells us that a thing exists, thinking tells us what it is, feeling tells us its value, and intuition tells us its possibilities in time.
I thought that the typology has some applicability not so much to genres or poets but to approaches to literary criticism. A critic could be centred on one or more of these different ways of telling.

And so for day 1545
06.03.2011

Masala Chai & Coffee Cousin

Tasting notes:

Cardamom is to coffee as pepper to tea.
One I drink black and the other laced with milk.

And so for day 1544
06.03.2011

Quatres Saisons - Kindness, unbribed.

A Little Chaos is about gardens features (a dance space at Versailles). It is also a film about women. This is perhaps no where more evident than in the hinge scene that carries the heroine, Sabine de Barra, through to her presentation to King Louis XIV, the Sun King.

She is handed off by Lauzun to Mme de Montespan who conducts her to room apart where for the first time in the film the story explores an all-female space. The script explains the moment thus

A small room full to the brim of women. Music. They crowd round DE BARRA.

As they are being introduced, they look directly at her, they study her openly, touch her hand, turn it over, take off her rings, try them on themselves. Look at her shoes. One tugs her hair to find out if it is real. DE BARRA yells, they all laugh,
The atmosphere of frivolity turns in an instant to the intent listening of what amounts to a consciousness-raising group as the women enumerate their losses. Mme de Montespan explains why such moments are snatched from the time at court.
We are not allowed to speak of death at court. The King does not like it, so he has banned it. But we speak about it amongst ourselves. Nobody can ban a child from its mother's heart. So.
Then we get the vital filler of back story about the Marquise de Maintenon who has usurped Mme de Montespan's place in the King's affection. In the next scene, Sabine is then presented to the King and its coded exchange about some roses having being "over-scented and overblown" — worth quoting in extenso.
DE BARRA

All roses are open to the elements your majesty. They bud, bloom and fade,

LOUIS

Continue, Madame.

DE BARRA

In the garden the rose grows entirely unaware, she follows a pattern of growth, changing naturally from one state to another, in order that future seasons may exist, and although the elements may treat her cruelly, she knows nothing of it, and continues to her end, without judgement on her beauty. Alas, it is not the same for us.

MONTESPAN listens intently.

LOUIS

If such a rose could speak, what would she say?

[…]

LOUIS (CONT'D)

And what protection can we afford this rose from these harsh elements of change?

DE BARRA

A little warmth, from the sun, can do wonders for the growth of a rose, your majesty.

LOUIS

We shall see, Madame de Barra. Now walk with us, and describe your progress in our garden.
The script's "little warmth" turns in the movie (see trailer) into a speech that underscores the identificatory moment.
[overblown roses] That fate awaits all roses, sire. […] Under nature's eye, all roses may bloom. Although the elements may treat us cruelly, patience, care, and a little warmth from the sun are our best hope.
Not a wonder that in both script and movie, Mme de Montespan's words conclude with wonder "Kindness, unbribed." Yes, kindness and gentleness born from handling thorns.

And so for day 1543
05.03.2011

Constant Constatation

I once commented on the structure of the grid in Garry Thomas Morse's "Petroglyph" from Discovery Passages and so it is not perhaps surprising that my eye would be arrested by the mention of stones in an eddy off to the right margin in the expanse of the projective (à la Olson) verse in the 9th section of Prairie Harbour

 pebbles other
underfoot graves
The lines can of course be read from left to right and up and down and form a cairn.

A simple constatation which might not hearken more attention were it not for the sly allusion in the 20th section to the poetry of Roy Kiyooka. Morse gives
you know, for that sense of
community interactivity
in the online simulation
of that Fontaine Bleu
Dream Machine
Coach House Books published in 1977 Kiyooka's The Fontainebleau Dream Machine. It gets interesting when you consider the opening of the 1st frame text in Kiyooka's book ends with the following lines
these stones these stones embody a tongue
tied Speech
Pebbles in the mouth. Demosthenes. Spit out. Back underfoot. Gravel in the Voice.

And so for day 1542
04.03.2011

Boil!

Florence Fabricant on Craig Claiborne

He was also available for his readers. Once, in East Hampton, where he had a vacation house with a listed phone number, a desperate cook, attempting one of Claiborne's recipes for his guests, called him because the sauce did not seem to be doing what it should. "What kind of heat do you have it on?" Claiborne asked. "Kind of a simmer," replied the cook. "Well, boil the bejesus out of it!" came roaring through the phone. Claiborne did not mince words.
From 101 Classic Cookbooks - 501 Classic Recipes, Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf, editors, drawing on the resources of the Fales Library, New York University.

And so for day 1541
03.03.2011

Narrative Bent: Within Reach

Goran Simić's poetry runs by narrative drive which is often pulled short by poem's end to provoke the reader into reflection. Take "Airport" from Immigrant Blues translated by Amela Simić where the regular repetition "we are flying … we are flying" gets grounded in the last lines

We are flying, I tell you,
though it looks to me
we haven't even left the runway.
Not unlike the ending to "When I Fall Asleep and When I Wake Up"
Then I think that there is no reason
to travel far and look for poetry
when there it is within reach.
And its reach can be brutal. "Bill's Uniform" (originally written in English) ends with the eponymous character walking a prison corridor and one set of eyes reminds him of his mother.
The pair of eyes reminds him of
his mother's sharp eyes,
when he was driven home by a police car
after he had beaten up a newcomer,
some ugly schoolmate
in a wheelchair.
Que dire?

And so for day 1540
02.03.2011

The Complicities of Genre and Greatness

1978. Ekbert Faas in Towards A New American Poetics on dramatic monologue via Robert Bly

To be sure, Bly's criticism, if taken cum grano salis, is not entirely irrelevant. For a poet using personæ without the techniques of multiperspective fragmentation developed by Pound, Eliot, and Williams, or without the self-transcendence achieved by D. H. Lawrence, somehow remains caught within a closed ego system. In other words, it seems doubtful whether anybody writing in the second half of this century can adopt a genre as obsolete as the dramatic monologue without falling into patterns, clichés, and sentiments typical of a previous age and alien to our literary sensibility as well as to our understanding of man in our time. And indeed, if poems such as "Slave Quarters" [by James Dickey] avoid these pitfalls by the compelling urgency of their subject and sheer technical brilliance, there are other poems by Dickey which sound like unintentional parodies of Browning. Keats' prophetic notion of the "chameleon poet" without a personality found an embodiment, appropriate for its time, in the Victorian poet and the proliferating multitude of "men and women" he projected in his dramatic lyrics. But modern man has learned to see his ego as immersed in Jung's collective unconsciousness, as only another object or event in Whitehead's open-ended universe of interrelated forces, or even as the final emptiness of Eastern philosophy. And it is possible that no great poetry can be written now which precludes an awareness of such insights.
2012. B.A. Nichols and H.F. Tucker in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics - 4th Edition
[I]n later generations Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery renewed the discrepancy between poet and speaker by spinning the psychological thread of monologue to a virtually clinical fineness. To rehistoricize this tradition and highlight its political subtexts has been the achievement of such contemporary poets as Richard Howard, Frank Bidart, Ai, and Carol Ann Duffy.
So we are sent back to Keats [Letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27th, 1818]
What shocks the virtuous philosopher, delights the camelion Poet. It does no harm from its relish of the dark side of things any more than from its taste for the bright one; because they both end in speculation. A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity—he is continually in for—and filling some other Body—The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute—the poet has none; no identity—he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God's Creatures […] When I am in a room with People if I ever am free from speculating on creations of my own brain, then not myself goes home to myself: but the identity of every one in the room begins so to press upon me that I am in a very little time annihilated - not only among Men; it would be the same in a Nursery of children
Camel. Lion. Camelion.

And so for day 1539
01.03.2011