To Give Voice, To Embrace

It is a great irony that I encountered, in the Caedmon Poetry Collection, Archibald MacLeish's poem "Epistle to Be Left In the Earth" while transferring audio cassette to mp3. A line struck me for its call to remembrance which entails an active voice:

Make in your mouths the words that were our names.
Reminded me of a project that has succumbed to digital rot (the .wav files will not play): the Whispers Project which I have described previously on Berneval (See Whispers). It is also interesting to note that the conception of the project depended on the form of the Web Ring, a form now gone into history.

And again I am reminded that all records erode as poignantly pointed out by Paul Monette's preface to Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog.

Worth remembering that MacLeish ends the poem with the observation that "Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky". We listen to the wind and we hear.

And so for day 1722

Pre After Forethought

After Forethought contained musings about a poem "Afterward" by James Schuyler. In a wry fashion, I indicated without undue bibliographic precision that the poem in question was to be found in the corpus. When my friend Fadi Abou-Rihan mentioned the blog post, I went to rekindle my acquaintance with the poem by picking up the Collected Poems and was puzzled to see that the ending ("This room needs flowers.") that had caught my attention was gone. Truncated, I believed. But the whole feel of the poem was off. It turns out that there are two poems entitled "Afterward"; one appears in The Morning of the Poem [That's the one I singled out for its smart ending to a poem about getting out of hospital.]; the other is in Hymn to Life [It is about snow and its effects; contrasts city and country.] The newly discovered for me (reading all out of chronological order) is the ending to the "Afterword" poem in Hymn to Life which also has a botanical desideratum in its conclusion.

Dreaming of a white
Vermont, scratched
By alders and firs.
Of course, both poems are in the Collected Poems which I did not have at hand. However, I am reminded by this little surprise of the advice to note bibliographic details meticulously when you have the object at hand. A piece of advice also iterated by Willard McCarty on the Humanist discussion list:
By far the most helpful course I took as an MA student -- and the only one I remember -- was dedicated to research methods. The professor (who had done his PhD before photocopiers) told us that whenever we had a book in our hands we should write down everything bibliographic about it that we could, as well as take very thorough notes, because we might never again be able to obtain the book. [And he goes on to confess.] Sloppy brevity does catch me occasionally -- as it did yesterday, when I mistook my own comments in a note on a book for the words of the author.

And so for day 1721

A Constellation of Lilacs

A single line by Ferenc Juhász from "Crown of hatred and love" in The Boy changed into a Stag: Selected Poems 1949-2967.

The lilacs are creatures guided by other stars.
And a few sprigs from James Schuyler "Hymn to Life" in the collection of the same name.
And that Washington flower, the pink magnolia tree, blooms now
In little yards, its trunk a smoky gray. And soon the hybrid azaleas,
So much too much, will follow, and the tender lilac. Persia, we
Have much to thank you for, besides the word lapis lazuli.
Amy Lowell devotes some attention to the geographic dispersion of lilacs over New England by way of comment on their roots.
False blue,
Color of lilac,
You have forgotten your Eastern origin,
The veiled women with eyes like panthers,
The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled pashas.
Now you are a very decent flower,
A reticent flower,
A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,
Standing beside clean doorways,
Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.
Genus Syringa

Which leads to a poem by John Ashbery "Syringa" in Houseboat Days which muses upon the stars: "Stellification / Is for the few, and comes about much later / When all record of these people and their lives / Has disappeared into libraries, onto microfilm." And as tempting it would be now to invoke digital rot, we must remind ourselves that Eliott Carter set the poem to music — a different sort of starification.

And so for day 1720

À bout de souffle

Kenneth Hopkins Collected Poems 1935-1965

"It was a Fatal Silence"

Concluding couplet to the sonnet

This love, though great, is gone, though deep, is done,
Though precious, spent, seeking, is sought of none.
I have known Hopkins as an epigramist of note. Here much of his strength comes to the fore. Though great, though deep, though precious — the description could pertain to the very verse describing the great love. But here at least there are some that seek and bring back.

And so for day 1719

Dust Flesh Time

Reminds me of Philip Pullman's "dust" in his trilogy His Dark Materials.

Joseph Brodsky fifth section from "Nature Morte" in the Selected Poems translated by George L. Kline.

Dust is the flesh of time.
Time's very flesh and blood.
I like the direction of the syntagm: dust —> flesh —> time

It hints that the accumulation of one upon the other is inevitable. This is particularly so given the impression of the whole section with its depiction of the ineradicable nature of dust.
This ancient cabinet —
outside as well as in —
strangely reminds me of
Paris's Notre Dame.

Everything is dark within
it. Dustmop or bishop's stole
can't touch the dust of things.
Things themselves, as a rule,

don't try to purge or tame
the dust of their own insides.
Dust is the flesh of time.
Time's very flesh and blood.
Recall what happens to dust (it leaks) when the fabric between worlds is cut in His Dark Materials.

And so for day 1718

Print as Phantom and Fetish

Sven Birkerts. "Hypertext of Mouse and Man" in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (1994).

Writing on the computer promotes process over product and favors the whole over the execution of the part. […] The expectation is no longer that there should be a single best way to say something; the writer accepts variability and is more inclined to view the work as a version. […] The printed page was an objective, immutable thing; the book was an artifact. With the divestment of the creator's authority and the attenuation of he stylistic ideal, the emphasis in writing has naturally moved from product to process. The work is not intended to be absolute, nor is it received as such. Writing tends to be seen not so much as an objective realization as an expressive instance. A version. Looking from the larger historical vantage, it almost appears as if we are returning to the verbal orientation that preceded the triumph of print.
The arc of history here is inaccurate. No matter how tempting the narrative of reversion to pre-print modalities in the electronic era, it is false on two fronts: orality was never totally superseded by the the arrival of print nor is electronic communication devoid of aspects of print.

Variants occur in printing. They are not a phenomenon isolated to manuscript culture.

"Book" is indeed but one instance of "text". Why should this be an occasion for lamentation? Take for instance this ecumenical and optimistic approach to text as described by D.F. McKenzie "Forward" to Bibliography and The Sociology of Texts (1999 reprinting the 1986 printing of the 1985 Panizzi Lectures)
The familiar historical processes by which, over the centuries, texts have changed their form and content have now accelerated to a degree which makes the definition and location of textual authority barely possible in the old style. Professional librarians, under pressure from irresistible technological and social changes, are redefining their discipline in order to describe, house, and access sounds, static and moving images with or without words, and a flow of computer-stored information. By contrast, academic bibliography has only recently begun to find fresh stimulus in those developments and to tap the new experience and interest of students for whom books represent only one form of text.
Birkerts offers in a sense a "print elitism". He is haunted by the spectre of democratic textualism.

And so for day 1717

Re-storying Authority

The influence of McLuhan is pervasive in the approach Sven Birkerts takes to writing via electronic means. ("Hypertext: Of Mouse and Man" The Gutenberg Elegies)

Yet now it is computers, in one sense the very apotheosis of applied rationality, that are destabilizing the authority of the printed word and returning us, although at a different part of the spiral, to the process orientation that characterized oral cultures.

Not at all clear as to how a "process orientation" is incompatible with authority structures.

There is authority at play in oral cultures.

See Lesson Module 1.1C "Oral Tradition" in the Open School British Columbia resources for B.C. FIRST NATIONS STUDIES 12
In some cultures, the storyteller is the keeper of the story. In other words, certain individuals own the right to tell that story (a kind of oral copyright); only the individual who owns the right to the story can choose to whom he or she will tell it; and only the person who owns the story can give permission to someone else to re-tell it.
More on permissions …
Kaylynn TwoTrees (1997), a Lakota storyteller, taught me elements of living story. “What is the Lakota penalty for changing a story, telling a story wrong or without permission?” I asked. “It is death,” TwoTrees replied, “because the story in an oral culture is the entire living history of the community.” She stresses three aspects: First, living stories not only have relativistic temporality (i.e., bridging past and present), there are times when a story can be told (e.g., seasons). Second, living stories have a place, and places have their own story to tell. Finally, living stories have owners, and one needs permission to tell another’s story of a time or a place. This is similar to what the Navaho say about story—living embodiments of Navaho reality, living dramas, language that creates reality, not the reverse (Toelken, 1996). Not getting the story straight has its consequences; stories that were told badly by Toelken, and perhaps without permission, in the wrong place and time, were affecting his “mental and physical imbalance” (p. 55). There is a crucial point here, the idea that story is more than interpretation, and a living story transforms the “real.”

David M. Boje "From Wilda to Disney: Living Stories in Family and Organization Research" in Handbook of Narrative Inquiry: Mapping a Methodology edited by D. Jean Clandin
TwoTrees, Kaylynn. (1997). Stories with mind. Session presented at the April, 1997, International Academy of Business Disciplines conference, Postmodern Organization Theory Track.

Toelken, Barre. (1996). "The icebergs of folktale: Misconception, misuse, abuse". In C. L. Birch & M. A. Heckler (Eds.), Who says? Essays on pivotal issues in contemporary storytelling (pp. 35–63). Little Rock, AR: August House.

Birkets was trying to link technologies of writing to degrees of versioning and thence to construction of the position of the author. Be it computer, pen or voice, the argument for technological determination doesn't hold because there are social practices at work.

And so for day 1716

Some of My Best Friends Gloss

Sven Birkerts (again).

We can expect that curricula will be further streamlined, and difficult texts in the humanities will be pruned and glossed. One need only compare a college textbook from twenty years ago to its contemporary version. A poem by Milton, a play by Shakespeare — one can hardly find the text among the explanatory notes nowadays. Fewer and fewer people will be able to contend with so-called masterworks of literature or ideas.
Hmmm. Mr. Birkerts in this essay ("Into the Electronic Millennium") in The Gutenberg Elegies equates the presence of a critical apparatus with a reader needing guidance and by implication that the lack of a critical apparatus with a reader or readers without need for guidance. Twenty years before his writing (1994) was also the era of Coles Notes still available 20 years after Birkerts's book appeared. Evidently there are other factors at work in the proliferation of texts with notes. For one as costs of producing annotated editions goes down we get more of them.

Fear not the call for unadorned text has been heard.

Enter Exhibit A

A lightly annotated version of Robert Lowell's "Skunk Hour" (you can turn the annotations off)

And so for day 1715

How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?

Sven Birkerts "Paging the Self" in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age depicts a theory of reading that reminds one of Ricoeur's enlargement of the self through appropriation.

We don't entirely become Holden [protagonist of Catcher in the Rye], but we abide by the terms of the world he narrates to us, agreeing to its provisions at least for the duration of our reading. […] And as we read, we find that Holden's (or any character's) world manifests a kind of wholeness. We do not learn so much from the novel itself, the lessons of its situations, as we do from having strayed free of our customary boundaries. On return, those boundaries seem more articulated, more our own; we understand their degree of permeability, and this is a vital kind of knowing.
This schema appears to suppose a fictional world that is complete (and comparable to the actual world). However it is possible to understand fictional worlds as incomplete.
While minimal departure assumes that fictional entities possess the same ontological fullness as real objects, Doležel invokes PW [Possible World] theory in support of a semantic model that stresses the radical incompleteness of fictional worlds: because it is impossible for the human mind to imagine an object (much less a world) in all of its properties, every fictional world presents areas of radical indeterminacy. It is a waste of time to ask how many children Lady Macbeth had, because the number of her children is never specified. As can be seen from this example, such a lack of information constitutes an ontological gap inherent to fictional worlds.

Possible Worlds by Marie-Laure Ryan in the living handbook of narratology
Radical indeterminacy — I would venture to say that the incompleteness of fictional worlds makes us ready to question wholeness questioned and so too the transformation of the reader. What is at work is ongoing construction. The kind wholeness that Birkerts finds in the novel is a mirror of the wholeness he accords the self: the complete individual. But what if the self is an ongoing project? Do we then need worlds that manifest wholeness?

And so for day 1714

Lures and Sinkers

Sven Birkerts (The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age) generalizes from his experience with hypertext to characterize the hypertextual environment as counter to sinking into receptivity which is what book reading does according to him.

For the effect of the hypertext environment, the ever-present awareness of possibility and the need to either make or refuse choice, was to preempt my creating any meditative space for myself.
Odd. This call to the space of suspended judgement which is meditation is fine in itself but to blame the potential of choosing for wrecking any affordance for meditation seems misplaced. Reading is about making decisions. To my mind exercising judgment is present in all types of reading. Exercising judgment requires a pause and all along the reading experience are micro-moments where the reader decides to enter into the world generated by the text, continue on exploring such a world or exit from the world exploration.
Independent Observations on Interactivity

There is reading and there is reflecting upon that reading: lures and sinkers.

And so for day 1713

Bang! Bang?

I like to follow the poet's lead in stretching a conceit to its limit. I especially like Mark Waldron with characteristic verve nibbling away a a sugary confection.

These are the concluding lines of "Guns in Films" in Meanwhile, Trees.

A gun in a movie is not the jam in a donut; it is the pip
in the jam in the donut, the jam being
the character's motivation, the dough being the script,

the donut's surface being the scene's location, and the sugary
coating being you in the cinema,
sprinkled-on-a-seat, wanting everything.
I like how construction and consumption are simultaneous.

And so for day 1712

Last Lafs

William Carlos Williams draws a parallel between the "stubborn man" and the "rocks" in "The Seafarer".

[…] They strain
forward to grasp ships
or even the sky itself that
bends down to be torn
upon them. To which he says,
It is I! I who am the rocks!
Without me nothing laughs.
It was in hearing the poet read the work that I became aware of the echo of "last" in the last line. It is the American pronunciation that betokens the semantic echo of the last laugh. The other (British) pronunciation rhymes with "scoff" and here takes up a partial rhyme with "rocks" but doesn't convey the phrase "last laughs".

See the Cambridge Dictionary:

PennSound houses a recording of the poet reading the work Reading and Commentary at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA Poetry Center, New York. January 27, 1954 in a set of recordings compiled and edited by Richard Swigg.

And so for day 1711

Collections, Series, Etc.

It's a lesson in humility and a lesson on the power of drawing to draw us to contemplate infinite series hence the humility.

Roland Barthes. all except you Saul Steinberg (Galerie M æght, 1983)


L'énumération des choses du monde s'étend tout le long de l'œuvre ; à première vue, c'est une énumération plate : variée par glissement d'une image à l'autre (une encyclopédie n'est pas objet métaphysique). […] Tel est bien le malaise inlassablement exprimé par Steinberg : le monde se suffit à lui-même, le monde n'a pas besoin de moi : « All except you. »

Listings of things is found throughout the work; at first glance, the listings are flat: varied by the slide from one image to another (an encyclopedia is not a metaphysical object). […] This is indeed the malaise expressed without a break by Steinberg: the world suffices unto itself, the world doesn't need me: "All except you."


Qu'est-ce qu'une collection, un défilé ? C'est quelque chose que je regarde. Et ce que je regarde, c'est ce dont je suis exclu. Le spectacle m'attire et me rejette tout à la fois. D'une part, je ressens un mouvement de solitude à l'égard de ce qui défile, et, d'autre part, je perçois, au loin la grande paix de tout ce qui se répète et se rassure de n'être pas seul. Une voix incessante parcourt l'œuvre de Steinberg ; on n'entend qu'elle et elle dit : All except you. Et de cette exception je tire à la fois profit et douleur.

What is a collection, is it a parade? It is something I look at. And what I look at excludes me. […]


[…] Le défilé et la file sont infinis, les deux infinis se croisent et se renforcent : c'est comme si, à un degré second, le « etc. » lui-même était répété, réverbéré par deux espaces différents.

[…] the parade and the line are infinite, the two infinities overlap and reinforce each other: it is as if in a second degree of meaning the "etc." itself was repeated, reverberating through two different spaces.
Loose translations, partial translations, and translations in the mathematical sense of transpositions, etc.

And so for day 1710

The Taste of Truth

Victor Hazan's tribute to his late wife Marcella in the dedication to Ingredienti

This guide is the testament of a woman who based her cooking life on the truth of every dish she cooked and taught, the vigorous truth of clear, uncluttered taste, taste that arises neither from obeisance to dogma, not from a craving for attention, but evolves inspired by, and respectful of, the ingredients that nourish it. To that woman I dedicate this work.

To Marcella.
A for instance, her tomato sauce with just three ingredients: tomatoes, butter and onion. The recipe calls for discarding the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. But it is so flavourful from simmering with the tomatoes that the frugal enjoy the onion on its own. Respecting both sauce and ingredients.

And so for day 1709

Is the Punctum a Perpetuum Mobile?

Fulcrum and vanishing point.

Alain Badiou on the prose of Natacha Michel.

We can see how, in the absence of spectacle, the rhythm decides that any place, no matter how stable it may be, no matter how anchored in ritual and childhood, is never anything but the occasion for a journey of thought and, in this sense, takes place only once.
Still not clear on rereading several times as to why the "occasion" takes place only once.

Is there a universe of prose where sets of rhythms intersect and the question of origin is put paid to?

And so for day 1708

Beastly Wit

A Child's Bestiary by John Gardner drawings by Lucy, Joel, Joan and John Gardner.

Three of my favourites:

The Penguin

The Penguin is often compared, wrongly,
To a gentleman in a tuxedo.
The Penguin is all good taste and charm,
The Man, all drunken libido.

The Lizard

The Lizard is a timid thing
That cannot dance or fly or sing;
He hunts for bugs beneath the floor
And longs to be a dinosaur.

The Crab

Never grab a Crab.
Indeed the illustration for this beast is laid out so that the crab is grabbing this short single line verse or admonition.

Seems like the crab has a libido of its own.

And so for day 1707

Possible Typology for Psychogeography

Jonathan Z. Smith in Chapter One ("In Search of Place") in To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual quotes Nancy Munn on the notion of ancestral transformations in Walbiri and Pitjantjatjara tribes. She "has provided a precise typology of such transformations, as well as a trenchant statement of their significance"

Three types of transformations are prominent . . . (1) metamorphosis (the body of the ancestor is changed into some material object; (2) imprinting (the ancestor leaves the impression of his body or some tool he uses); (3) externalization (the ancestor takes some object out of his body).
A visit to a local park has me looking for traces of metamorphosis, imprinting and extrusion. The externalized object could be the bench I sit upon; the imprint is left by the flower beds and the fenced-in dog run; the evidence of metamorphosis is present in the public sculpture. All that is missing is an ascription to ancestors.

See "The transformation of subjects into objects in Walbiri and Pitjantjatjara myth" Nancy D. Munn in Australian Aboriginal anthropology : modern studies in the social anthropology of the Australian Aborigines edited by Ronald M. Berndt.

I had drawn upon Munn's work on Walbiri iconography in my dissertation: I was struck by the possibilities of modelling equivalency of objects and and events via modes of narration.
As the neologism indicates, narratival structures are not the same as narrative structures. If Argyros [Argyros, Alex. "Narrative and Chaos." New Literary History 23:3 (Summer 1992), 659-673.] had not implicitly embedded narrative in a verbal form of discourse, his paradigm case would not resemble the subject-verb-object formula of Indo-European sentences.
And it is at that point that I appeal to Munn — Walbiri Iconography: Graphic Representation and Cultural Symbolism in a Central Australian Society (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1973).
The narratival structures outlined by Argyros do not provide a model logically powerful enough to explain the equivalency between events and objects. In Australian aborignial visual designs and storytelling, Nancy Munn reports
[T]here is no clear distinction between actor-action and actor-object constructions, and it is convenient to link them both in one overarching figure type with a general meaning that can be stated as "actor (in relation to)-item" ("actor-item"). (Walbiri Iconography 81).
As a category "relationship" opens up more phenomena to narrativity than that of "action".
Storing and Sorting - Note No. 2

And so for day 1706

In the Grove of Delta Grooves

"Poor" Phil Hall in Conjugation

It begins with a metamorphosis

 Scared   words   jump
over   fly up   scat sing   Ovid

doe → dove
With an explanation midway
 above a fence   a doe
its hoof's aim   a beak   v

And the spell expands by reaching back to Greek (and the symbol for change)
flourish   by   and in   these latticed   guilds
 these tiny   Δ   splitting-wedges   Δ   sung

no way it's over
And we find an intertext.
Phoenecian dalet — door

“two women in a birth” out of Daphne Marlatt & Betsy Warland Double Negative
(as the women have always sung) this body my
(d)welling place, unearthed.
liminal (door) transformation (delta) — well placed dee

And so for day 1705

Movement versus Motion

Rebecca Solnit Wanderlust: A History of Walking

[A] certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body itself in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.
Parents, especially fathers, who drive their children to sleep might want to take note. A bit of an amble in fresh air might do wanders for sending the child off to dreamland and the human perambulator might derive a bonus pleasure from the footwork.

And so for day 1704

Jimmy Moebius

Bending like a never ending story


Jamie sites with chin in hand
     Dreaming of a foreign land,
There the children tax their wits
     Dreaming of where Jamie sits
Kenneth Hopkins Collected Poems 1935-1965 (North Walsham Norfolk : Warren House Press, 1981). All the epigrammatic wit found here is also found in the Catalyst 1977 The dead slave, and other poems of Martial : some versions from book XV of Marcus Valerius Martialis.

And so for day 1703

Coffee with Warhol

Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook illustrated by one Andrew Warhol

Shall I pour? Cream and sugar? Black?

Mind you don't spill any.

And so for day 1702

Sanguine Bravura

En rouge! Elle tricote du rouge, la mère! un rouge magnétique, frénétique, un rouge de pulsions! Un rouge biographique, définitivement triomphant contre le neutre, l'objectif, le nul, le propre. Et son foulard finit toujours par ressembler, je ne sais pourquoi, à un étendard d'amazone.
"les faiseuse d'anges" in tryptique lesbien
jovette marchessault
Crimson! The mother, she knits flesh red! Magnetic, frenetic scarlet, pulsating red! A biographic vermillion, definitely triumphing over neutral, objective, null and proper [colours]. And the scarf [she knits] always ends up resembling, I know not why, an Amazon banner.
from repetition to synonym pileup : coral rust

And so for day 1701

Sampling the Burdens

Harryette Mullen. Muse & Drudge collected in Recyclopedia.

Described as a blues meets lyric poetry project, reading is a type of sampling.

her songs so many-hued
hum some blues in technicolor

blurred rubble slew of words
stutter war no more

last chance apocalypso
lay down my burden

: The chorus or refrain of a composition.
: Something that is carried.

And so for day 1700

Sweet Tooth Multiplied

What struck me in this emergence of an orisha was the plural "sweet teeth". It lends a fierceness to the goddess of love.

women of honey harmonies offer
alfalfa wild flower buckwheat and clover
to feed Oshun who has sweet teeth
and is pleased to accept their gift
Harryette Mullen. Muse & Drudge collected in Recyclopedia.

Craving. Appetite. And a glorious sense of possession.

Mullen explains her project thus:
When I wrote Muse & Drudge, I imagined a chorus of women singing verses that are sad and hilarious at the same time. Among the voices are Sappho, the lyric poet, and Sapphire, an iconic black woman who refuses to be silenced. Diane Rayor had translated surviving fragments of Sappho's ancient Greek poetry into an American idiom that sound to my ear like a woman singing the blues. So Muse & Drudge, in a sense, is a crossroads where the blues intersects with the tradition of lyric poetry, as well as a text for collaborative reading and on occasion to unite audiences often divided by racial and cultural differences.
There are many types of sweet teeth as there are of honey — clover buckwheat wild flower and alfalfa

In a country far away someone else was musing differently on fierceness and love through an envocation of Oshun through the voice of a top
Orange seeds, I'll spit five your way.
The rind is mine.
O-rages for Oshun (12/4/92)

Like a back beat, Other teeth in Muse & Drudge
those cloudy days I'd fly
from the icy airport
while you tried to breathe life
into your bucktoothed scarecrow

a thing of shreds and patches
hideous scarecrow she
puts teeth in any nightmare
of the man who sleeps with matches
And so for day 1699

Cycling: simple and compound

Out of "Ulterior Thule" by Phil Hall in The Little Seamstress

What topsoil tells the hand—the hand tells a pencil—a pencil
tells type—type tells a program—a program tells brains—
brains tells the gods—& the gods tell topsoil …
Telluric wanderings. Airy driftings. Culture and nature caught in the same anthropocene ecology. Whispers of a great chain of being pluralized and streaming along planar surfaces.

And so for day 1698

tools bodies cities

Opening of William Gibson "Metrophagy: the Art and Science of Digesting Great Cities" collected in Distrust That Particular Flavor and first appeared as as a review of London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd in The Whole Earth Catalog Summer 2001.

Literary forms are tools, and genuinely new ones are and far between.

I believe that Peter Ackroyd has invented a genuinely new one with London: The Biography, although I would hesitate to give him sole credit for the perfected form.
Here is the opening to Ackroyd's book:
The city as body

The image of London as a human body is striking and singular; we may trace it from the pictorial emblems of the City of God, the mystical body in which Jesus Christ represents its head the citizens its other members. London has also been envisaged in the form of a young man with his arms outstretched in a gesture of liberation; the figure is taken from, a Roman bronze but it embodies the energy and exultation of a city continually expanding in great waves of progress and of confidence. Here might be found the 'heart of London beating warm'.
Key name in this review: Iain Sinclair.

And so for day 1697

More Word Associations

Like an exquisite corpse, more from the denizens of Madhouse.

(Nov 16 18:54) From Yred: surprise
(Nov 18 17:26) From Light: party
(Nov 19 18:43) From Irc: political
(Nov 23 18:17) From Yred: animal
(Nov 25 21:50) From Irc: vegetable
(Nov 29 08:01) From Yred: peeler

(Dec 31 09:31) From Razor: draw
(Jan 1 13:59) From Yred: poker
(Jan 4 17:18) From Light: face
(Jan 7 15:20) From Razor: palm
(Jan 10 19:04) From Irc: oil
(Jan 12 19:11) From Yred: change
(Jan 13 16:15) From Light: mind
(Jan 13 18:24) From Razor: blown
(Jan 16 18:54) From Timer: balloon
(Jan 17 09:35) From Yred: clown
(Jan 18 17:00) From Irc: politicians
surprise animal peeler poker change clown

And so for day 1696

Victim Blaming and Suspension of Beliefs

From "Privilege of Unknowing: Diderot's The Nun" in Tendencies by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

A simple response to this worry would be that the deglobalizing, the pluralizing of the idea of innocence/ignorance, that we are trying to effect here, should also if it were consistently understood result in a disassembly of the fascination with reified innocence/ignorance as the main ground for claiming injury, especially sexual injury. […] In fact, it might well strengthen our ability to define and hence to combat such injury if we could understand it in some way that separated it entirely from the issue of initiation, of the violation of a supposed originary non-knowledge, non-desire, non-individuation that can perhaps be shown in every case already to have been breached.
Brings to mind a line of poetry from Phil Hall
skepticism inefficient as a rose
"Variorum" The Little Seamstress

Beware of thorns. Handle with Care. No simple response.

And so for day 1695

Abandoned To Be Retrieved

Dancer from the Dance
Andrew Holleran

Well, these personalities had vanished and now the house was empty. And as I wondered through, I felt a guilty pleasure I have always known in places the crowd has departed — a dormitory room on graduation day, a church after mass, bungalows by the sea when the season is past. There was something mute and eloquent about such places, as if they were speaking a very old tale of loss, futility, and peace. Post offices in small towns, late at night …
I am reminded of the exquisite work of Geoffrey James Entrance & Exits: The Garden as Theatre, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1984.

And so for day 1694


R. Bruce Elder
The Body in Film
Art Gallery of Ontario, 1989

On the "personal body" in the films of Andrew Noren The Adventures of the Exquisite Corpse

but the presence of these allusions to historical works of art have another importance. The artist has the unique privilege of speaking to or of other artists as colleagues and associates. Every strong artist is required to confront his predecessors and to claim the strength to be their colleague; the moment when he or she can do so is the moment when the artist becomes an adept. The inclusion of these references suggests Noren's encounter with his precursors and points out that he engages in a similar act of creation with theirs. These allusions, then, come as close as anything in Noren's films to announcing his assumption of the responsibilities and delights of his vocation.
I detect the influence of Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence minus the anxiety.

And so for day 1693

From the Previously Uncollected Work

Died of AIDS in 1994

My desire is like coral, growing
up out of the disintegration
of other things, a shape
into which masses of watery
light are poured. My love
exists to prove you impossible.
from "Unattached"
Donald Britton
In the Empire of the Air: The Poems of Donald Britton edited by Reginald Shepherd and Philip Clark

"He neither inhabits his body nor is he cut off from it." John Yau (

endless breathless sleeplessness — of his bones are coral made

And so for day 1692