Flow and Fold

Not a wonder that my reading stumbles and sees "loss" for "less" in these lines from Suzanne Buffam's Past Imperfect from the sequence entitled "Inklings": "to retrieve it you'd think / we'd be gifted with less."

Earlier we encountered this in "Sire Gromore Somyr Joure" which builds upon delicate repetition that becomes slowly attenuated.

Knees were for kneeling. Lashes were for looking
at the sun. The river was slow and it hurried.
And later the notion of loss bites again in the conclusion of a poem called "What is Called Déjà Vu"
like a dream inside which a crouched
animal is awaiting
release, recognition.
Its little teeth glisten.
Same familiar facility with repetitions and alliterations and the zest of the zinger.

And so for day 1844

Putting and Retrieving

This in response to a call issued in Humanist 30.757 hands on


I want to add some remarks about the relation of craft to orchestration.

You characterize Tim Ingold's take on the implements of writing:
But he also comes down rather hard on modern interfaces for writing -- the typewriter and its digital imitation -- which do rather badly in comparison with pen and paper. He does not mention the mouse.
You wonder "what would be a persuasive answer to his objection".

I think it begins by noting how pen and hand like typewriter can display in space a many-voiced text. Ingold [in Making] cites Heidegger to the effect that 'modern man writes "with" the typewriter' and emphasizes that "with" is placed under quotation marks by Heidegger. This invites also thinking about writing "with" pen. A direction that Ingold does not take.

Pen and paper can involve many inks, many pieces of paper and many scripts (cursive, blockprinting, etc). Typewriting can involve carriage returns, spacing, backspacing, strikeouts of various sorts and on some models different colours. A word processor provides a full symphony of typographic effects.

I stress the similarities here to raise the question of telos. If the end is to capture the many voices in one's head then the putative superiority of one mode over another strikes a rather strange note.

Of course in an entirely oral situation we can imagine the assignment of various parts to various groupings of people in a choral round. Thus in certain ways the pen wielder is akin to a conductor.

Following Heidegger, Ingold asserts that the hand can hold and the fingertip can merely touch. But what of counting with one's fingers or committing to memory a list with places reserved for each item on each finger? "With" indeed.

We place an idea or a voice in a certain locale in the world and then retrieve.

I would venture that placing is akin to craft and retrieval involves orchestration.

In any event, I find it difficult to sustain the narrative of decay that Ingold invokes ("The drift of technological enhancement has been to substitute touch sensitivity at the fingertips for the sentient correspondence of telling by hand.") as I key in the words that were written by hand out of print in the library copy of the book. The line breaks shift. Migration is the standard.

In the fingertips is the charm of voice.
Intriguing interplay between rest and migration — the words are always already reconstellating.

And so for day 1843

Nothing and Essence

This takes its force from being set in a parenthesis.

George once again eschews experience as having nothing to do with the present moment. (Isherwood himself, it should be observed, "formed" fairly early in life into the person he would forevermore be. He was an emotional prodigy; and to a prodigy, experience is indeed nothing.)
From 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read edited by Richard Canning — Patrick Ryan on A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood.

And so for day 1842

Not a Nautical Term

I thought the "veronica" in Eamon Grennan's "oystercatchers in flight" (There Now ) was a word capturing the manoeuvres of the birds.

         a band of oystercatchers faces all one way
into a nor'wester so shafts of windlight
         ignite each orange beak in this abiding
tribe of black till you clap and their risen black
         turns white as they veronica on wind and
But what was an effect of wind was also an effect of light. The pattern of the birds — black turning to white — is likened to a sweat-stained shroud but perhaps more aptly to this definition of veronica: in bullfighting, a slow movement of the cape away from a charging bull by the matador, who stands in place. [said to be by association of the attitude of the matador with the depiction of St. Veronica holding out a cloth to Jesus] (New Oxford American Dictionary).

Not a nautical term. No.

And so for day 1841

Time-Space and Story Curves

Paul Ricoeur Temps et récit I

Ce qui fait énigme, c'est la structure même d'une image qui vaut tantôt comme empreinte du passé, tantôt comme signe du future
Trace and sign take on some ample wings in the context of verbal constructions.

See Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics
Text-time is thus inescapably linear, and therefore cannot correspond to the multilinearity of 'real' story-time.(2)

(2) One should note, however, two factors which tone down the irreversibility of text-time: (a) the fact of writing and hence the possibility of re-reading; (b) the existence of quasi-spatial patterns which establish supra-linear links, e.g. analogy.

And so for day 1840

Make Space for the Girl

Found poem.

I've come from him
and how close to me
he remains.

someone, somewhere,
will look for me and
I will be found
From trans poet, Gwen Benaway Passage.
First stanza is the last stanza of "Nightfall" p. 69
Last stanza is the last stanza of "What's Wild in Wild" p. 21

What is ostensibly a "him" referring to the lost ("divorced") lover is inscribed in such a way to reveal an intriguing (unconscious) introversion of the mourned object: "in cold light, a marker for how far // I've come from him / and how close to me / he remains" — that gap produces a displacement if not condensation of the signifier — another him may be lost.

Thomas Pavel, Fictional Worlds
[T]here is no guarantee that all sentences of the text can be traced back to one and the same world, or to the same universe.
And as we learn here, pronoun reference can shift. Pavel reminds us "referential behavior includes a creative, risk-taking aspect, as well as a tendency to settle down into conventional patterns."

And so for day 1839

Golden Dragon Dining Guidelines

In case you don't know how much to order:


All our foods to take out are put in paper pails of pint and quart measure of standard size and will stay hot for an hour but may be reheated, if necessary, in double boiler or saucepan over a slow fire only.
In this era pre-microwave oven, there are also recommendations as to when to order.

We recommend calling for your food after your table is set for serving, to give you the most Delicious Hot Meal.
No eating from the carton, eh.

And so for day 1838

On the Temporal Nature of Coming Out

A digression from an essay on the various versions of Adrienne Rich's "Heterosexism and Lesbian Existence" [said essay about the shifting valence attached to gay men as characterized in its various emendations of the footnotes] …

For every impasse, a digression. Coming out stories are narratives of separation, passage — risk taking — into uncharted territory. But not always against the grain of connecting with our past. For our coming out stories also reflect how we found the resources to step out of time. Through the telling we become our own models experiencing history not as then but as now.
The temporalities of "coming out" would involve a recuperation of the past. Though not always.

And so for day 1837

Mere Pattern

Wendy Steiner. The Colors of Rhetoric

It is the norms of pictorial realism that allow us to see process in pictures; without them we see mere pattern.
This takes on a certain coloration when one considers the earlier considerations on chance and its psychological dimensions:
If we accept pure randomness we risk appearing as bewildered ignoramuses; if we insist on finding the allegorical system behind it all we become dreary pedants […] The double threat of exhaustion and boredom continually stalks the reader of nonsense.
Voilà - the connoisseur of nonsense like the fancier of pictures is at home in mere pattern and in process.

And so for day 1836

Flaneurie Fancies

Jonathan Raban
Soft City

living in the city is an art, and we need the vocabulary of art, of style, to describe the peculiar relation between man and material that exists in the continual creative play of urban living
this i take it also references the destructions of the urban fabric and how they modify the traversals

And so for day 1835

Skipping Stones

salvaged from some scribblings

to fling a fossil into eventflowness

the failure of gravitas to sedimentalize flight

as if the truth had not been told

captured and released

And so for day 1834

The Built Whorl

Jeanette Winterson
"The Semiotics of Sex"

Art is not a private nightmare, not even a private dream, it is a shared human connection that traces the possibilities of past and future in the whorl of now. It is a construct, like science, like religion, like the world itself. It is as artificial as you and me and as natural too.
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

And so for day 1833

Time-travel Tricolon

Camella Grace
on Timothy Leary
Design for Dying

He was a man who touched the future, studied the past, and sculpted the present.
Notice how fragile the construction is. It requires the casting of the future-past-present in order to solidify its rhetorical strength. Any other order smashes the implied narrative that peering into the future through an observation of the past yields to moulding the present. We are brought back to our implied point of departure. The present is the past of the future.

And so for day 1832

S-o-r-t-i-n-g Sort of Thing

Robert Bringhurst


The cover title is nicely "sorted" on the half-title page.







A fine production from the Rochester Institute of Technology Press to mark the presentation of the Frederic W. Goudy Award to Robert Bringhurst.

And so for day 1831

Group Dynamics: Micro Trio

a run found at bottom of a note on agents and worlds

clay / clef / chef
The group becomes intriguing when one considers the French word for "key" and its pronunciation. I do find the visual translations engrossing.

And so for day 1830

Jogging the Memory

Two lines linked or subtly severed? In my mind these lines from "Old Song, New Song" merge on a scene of an outdoor social under resinous boughs.

a whiff of pine —
didn't we meet at the strawberry tea?
from Yoko's Dogs Rhinoceros

Yoko's Dogs is a collaborative group of four poets—Jane Munro, Susan Gillis, Mary di Michele and Jan Conn—dedicated to writing in Japanese forms.

There's more to admire. I thought it quite elegant to repeat the turtle-skunk figure in the context of both love and desire. The double take is delightful.

"the turtle buries its eggs / the skunk digs them up — / such is desire"

"love is also / the turtle buries its eggs / the skunk digs them up "

And so for day 1829

Lingua Franca Revisited

Language Wars: Is English bound to remain the dominant global tongue?
Stephen Henighan

This summer, in Russia, I saw something different: crowds of Chinese tourists entering shops and restaurants, typing their orders into their iPhones in Mandarin, then pressing a button to translate them into Russian and holding up their screens for Russian clerks and waiters to read. Plenty of trading took place, yet no one uttered a word of English. Translation technology that dispenses with the burden of cross-cultural verbal communication at a basic level may yet rein in our language’s global ambitions.

Reminds me of how very similarly Chinese script works across dialects: as a bridge.

And so for day 1828

A Column Electrified

This bit from Hal Foster The Return of the Real: The Avant-garde at the End of the Century has been reproduced with line breaks set at intervals similar to a newspaper column.

Out of similar symptoms
McLuhan arrives at a different
diagnosis. As in the spectacle of
Debord, so in "the global village"
of McLuhan: distance, spatial as
well as critical, is eclipsed. But
rather than separation, McLuhan
sees "retribalization," and rather
than criticality lost, he sees
distraction transvalued. Oblivious
to Benjamin, McLuhan develops
related ideas, often only to invert
them. For McLuhan new
technologies do not penetrate
the body "surgically" so much as
they extend it "electrically." Yet
like Benjamin he sees this
operation as double: technology
is both an excessive stimulus, a
shock to the body, and a
protective shield against such
stimulus-shock, with the stimulus
converted into the shield (which
then invites more stimulus, and
so on). […] Mcluhan sees this
extension as an ecstatic body
become electric, wired to the
world, and sometimes as a
"suicidal auto-amputation, as if
the central nervous system could
no longer depend on the physical
organs to be protective buffers
against the slings and arrows of
outrageous mechanism."
Hamlet be damned. Foster's choice of verb (seeing) to describe McLuhan's meditations on technology displays the latter's occularcentrism and it is but a step to an analysis of phallologocentrism. Foster continues with brio:
With these contradictory tropes of extension and amputation, McLuhan remains with the logic of technology as prosthesis — as a divine supplement to the body that threatens a demonic mutilation, or a glorious phallicization of the body that presupposes an horrific castration. Operative in different modernisms, this logic presumes both a male body and a split subject, a subject in lack (indeed, in McLuhan the subject remains a Hamlet wounded by slings and arrows).
Foster goes on to question whether or not we have today exceeded such a logic. A question for 1996. And a question for now?

And so for day 1827

Ordering Counting Questioning

John Cage

Would I have to know how to count in order to ask questions?
A line sandwiched between the following:
Would I have to know how many questions I was going to ask?


Do I have to know when to stop?
As recorded in the "Composition" section of Silence

And so for day 1826

The Voices of Here We Are

This passage takes on an added dimension when we note that the reader is none too sure what voice belongs to the pronouncements.

This is not a university: it is a sanatorium.


Here we are, and my father is looking more and more like an old book on a library shelf. Here we are, and there is no going back and no going forward. In this sanatorium the greatest kindness is that there is no time and no place: there are only books. There are only books and the doctors and patients who with infinite care and reverence, watch over them so that they will last, so that something will survive.
The Impossible Mourning of Jacques Derrida. Sean Gaston doing the voices…

And so for day 1825

Catalytic Middle Term

This is a question:

It looks like a set of words in a column: manuscript, oratory, scholarly ap[aratus].

Position is important. The question: how does the practice of oratory reflect upon manuscript culture to produce the scholarly or critical apparatus? What is implied in the reading top to bottom is the operation "followed by" and what is generated by this group is a challenge to a historiography of rupture where oral cultures are disrupted by the coming of writing — all accomplished with a memorable trio.

And so for day 1824

The Context of Contest

There is for me a very interesting accidental in the text of "Film as Dialogical Art: Bakhtin, Pragmatics and Film Criticism" by Janina Falkowska a paper presented at the 1991 "Interaction in Process" Colloquium of Comparative Literature in Canada and published in Volume XXII Number 2 (Fall 1992)of Comparative Literature in Canada - La Literature Comparée au Canada edited by Joyce Gogin. This is the bit that interests me:

The dialogical nature of Bakhtin's concept of Word can be compared to a pragmatic understanding of the communication act with its sender, receiver, message and contest [sic].
One first believes that "contest" has been substituted for "context" and overlooked in the usual reliance on automated spellcheckers. But the passage continues and raises the spectre of struggle.
Bakhtin's model seems to extend this concept beyond the rigorous perception of the communication act as existing in an actual speech situation. In its most general terms, the dialogic views language as social practice, as the struggle between language systems within a particular socio-historic context. To enter that struggle as a language user means to engage in speech as citation, for any linguistic utterance involves the adoption of, as well as the response to, prior speech. Speech as interlocution becomes an ideological form which both reveals and produces the subject's position within a social system.
Leads me to pose the question of what type dialogical situation exists when the very context is contested.

And so for day 1823

The R i c h :: The P o o r

The title is mathematically inspired: Peano Curves and Cantor Dust. Infinite occupations of space and infinite recursive reductions. But its tone is political.

Peano Curves and Cantor Dust

I ride the subway
The rich do not

I frequent the delicatessen
The rich do not
The caterer makes a house
call with a set of delectable samples

I ride the subway
The poor do not
They walk blocks and blocks
through slush in sneakers
lined with plastic bags to reach a food bank, a soup kitchen, a place of rest.
I had originally posted this as an index.html file to a subdirectory to offer to anyone who would truncate a url to see something unexpected. http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/portfolio/ Time to bring it out of the shadows. And apply a transformation to some key words. A translation, if you will.

f o o d   s o u p   r e s t

f   o   o   d     s   o   u   p     r   e   s   t

f     o     o     d       s     o     u     p       r     e     s     t

And so for day 1822

Number One Advice for Living a Writing Life

His first tip for aspiring novelists:

One: work every day. Get into the habit of it. Work, when you don't feel like it, when you've just broken up with your girlfriend or boyfriend, when you're feeling ill, when you've got homework to do. Put your work first. Habit is your greatest ally. Get into the habit of writing when you're young and it'll stay with you. Sixteen is a very good age to start.
Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman: a life in writing The Guardian, March 3, 2011.

And so for day 1821

Agency Located

A question and answer that arose in contemplating Doležel's work on possible worlds and fiction.

Q. What is between the universe and the world?

A. Agents
But how does an "agent" arise? A fold in the fabric of the universe …

And so for day 1820

Erosion Erased

one of those small slips of paper containing a line i can't quite trace

the landscape
never left off
leaving its traces
mine? another's? ours?

And so for day 1819

Coping with Copying

Pick your adventure.

re (coop) eration
re (coup) eration
Recuperating from a transcription error?

And so for day 1818

A Dearth of Photocopiers

Mario Livio recounts this episode in the life of Évariste Galois. It strikes me as possible only at a time when paper was expensive and the making of copies labour-intensive.

In June 1829, the Academy of Sciences announced the establishment of a new Grand Prix for Mathematics. […] The work was entered in February 1830, shortly before the March 1 deadline. […] For reasons that are not entirely clear, the academy's secretary, Fourier, took the manuscript home. He died on May 16, and the manuscript was never recovered among his papers. Consequently, entirely unbeknownst to Galois, his entry was never even considered for the prize. […] You can imagine Galois's anger when he learned eventually that his own manuscript had been lost. The paranoid young man was now convinced that all the forces of mediocrity had untied to deny him a well-deserved repute.
The Equation That Couldn't be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry

And so for day 1817

They, The Other Gender

I always thought "one" was a lovely gender neutral word to cover either "he" or "she". Others have taken to using singular "they" (which has support from grammarians going way back). Others use gender free pronouns such as "hir".

Why not import?

I am brought to this question by a poem by Bänoo Zan which begins "Bitter dark / my hair" and ends

Ou has always
esh coffee.
With a note indicating that "ou" is the third person non-gender specific pronoun in Persian and "esh" is the third person singular non-gender specific pronoun.

The full poem appears in From the Root Zine Issue #1 ::hair::

And so for day 1816

On the Nature of Polls

Charles Bernstein

What seems to be discouraged in American politics is any active participation in the designation and description of public policy issues — a ceding of authority that politicians, journalists, and the public are forced to accept if they are to play the political roles to which they seem to have been assigned. The poll remains the most conspicuous example of this disenfranchising process, for polls elicit binary reactions to always-already articulated policies — a stark contrast to proactive political participation that entails involvement in formulating these policies — including formulating the way they are represented.
A Poetics (Harvard University Press, 1992)

And so for day 1815


Ian Gold and Suparna Choudhury
"Losing Our Heads"
Literary Review of Canada

Contemporary neuroscience is what the brain looks like through a keyhole. It is the science of the brain in isolation. The brain, however, is not isolated; it is situated. It lives in an environment-first and foremost, in a body, as well as in a physical, social and cultural milieu — and this environment matters to our understanding of what the brain does. A full description of brain function, therefore, will have to be an expansive one that includes neuroscience as well as a characterization of those features of the world — especially the social world — that matter most to the working brain.

And so for day 1814