Trails of Structure and Tales of Self

First the indication of a long sweep in the reading:

The Stubborn Structure: Essays on Criticism and Society (London: Methuen, 1970). Fyre was rightly known for his long attention span and would not mind, I hope, that in shaping this quotation I have taken one sentence from page 3 of his book and the other from page 82.
Next the selection:
the knowledge of most worth, whatever it may be, is not something one has: it is something one is . . . The end of criticism and teaching, in any case, is not an aesthetic but an ethical and participating end: for it, ultimately, works of literature are not things to be contemplated but powers to be absorbed.
Robert Bringhurst. What Is Reading for? (Cary Graphic Arts Press: Rochester, New York).

And so for day 2108

Enduring Virtues

If I may, a mapping (inspired by the virtuous and public work of Kathleen Fitzgerald in Generous Thinking) and inspired by some thoughts on the cardinal and digital virtues . . . a foray into the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Faith is about bringing the best of the past to the listening situation (we trust there is some value in what has gone on before, it's a belief that grounds our commitment) and hope is about taking the best from the listening situation and projecting it into the future (we expect that good will follow). Caritas (charity or love) is being mindful of the power dynamics in each listening situation. Care is of the present.

Faith and hope belong to the world of affect. Care is of the intellect. It requires judgment and assessment. It weighs. It is the judicious application of critique.

In the context of the discussion in Generous Thinking the question arises as to the alignment of empathy with these orientations to the communication situation. Inspired by the work of Paul Bloom (see Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion for his take on the good of parenting as being outside the realm of empathy) and mindful of his discussion of "cognitive empathy," I would suggest that empathetic understanding or care involves a temporal folding: bringing into the present space both a historical sensitivity (being attuned to what people value in the past) and a teleological bent (a watchfulness of what desires propel communicative encounters). Care is not so much being open to the feelings of other people in sense of the Adam Smith's sympathy, a type of empathy which Bloom argues against (and he distinguishes this from "cognitive empathy"). Care or "cognitive empathy" is a receptivity to the fault lines between hope and faith that run through any sense of self and more so in the relations of self and other. Care understands story as story: the past (barbaric or edenic) as abandoned by progress; the apocalyptic future ushering in utopia or nightmares. Care or "cognitive empathy" would thus recognize and acknowledge affect and attempt to trace its origins and where it might lead.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

And so for day 2107

Culinary Layering

The eight steps in how Anna Jones puts a recipe together:

Hero Ingredient
How Shall I Cook It?
Supporting Role?
Add an Accent
Add a Flavour
Add a Herb
Add Some Crunch
Season and Finish
from a modern way to eat

It calls for a well-stocked larder and a source of fresh ingredients. And an easy hand with variety.

And so for day 2106

Meet the Wort Family

Anna Pavord in the preface to the Herbology section of Harry Potter - A History of Magic: The Book of the Exhibition (At the British Library) waxes eloquently on plant names and the very special magic contained in etymology.

She explains that plant names ending in "wort" were (as the OED says): "in combination Used in names of plants and herbs, especially those used formerly as food or medicinally, e.g. butterwort, lungwort, woundwort."

The variety of *wort names is astounding
  • Barrenwort - Epimedium, especially Epimedium alpinum
  • Lungwort - A plant of the genus Mertensia, the lungworts. Also, a boraginaceous plant of the genus Pulmonaria
  • Motherwort - A herb, Leonurus cardiaca, of the mint family, Lamiaceae
  • Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris
  • Sneezewort - Achillea ptarmica. Goosetongue; Bastard pellitory
  • Spleenwort
  • St. John's Wort - Can refer to any species of Hypericum
Exercise your imagination, invent some new *worts
  • phonewort
  • blogwort
  • googlewort
  • txtwrt
Fun, eh?

And so for day 2105

Way to Eat - Way to Live

Anna Jones in the introduction to a modern way to eat [never capitalized throughout] makes a series of claims.

I'd like to make a few promises about the food in this book:
  • It is indulgent and delicious
  • It will make you feel good and look good
  • It will leave you feeling light yet satisfied
  • It will help you lighten your footprint on the planet
  • It is quick and easy to make and won't cost the earth
  • And it'll impress your family and friends
There is the delight in the anaphora. There is the balance. And a move from the food to the conviviality surrounding its preparation and consumption.

A feast.

And so for day 2104

Empathy and the Place of Reason

I have been reading through the comment-available publication of Kathleen Fitzpatrick's Generous Thinking and have been led to observe:

Are there two empathies? Empathy of feeling and empathy of imagination. And is not reason and critique that which allows the participant in a communicative situation to ferry between the focus on the self (how do I feel?) and a focus on the other (what is the other feeling?). Inserted into this space is judgement which of course is open to inspection. Empathy invites a sort of mapping  and a consideration of the rightness of that mapping.

Such a tripartite view of empathy is rooted in a belief that all communication is mediated. It addresses Paul Bloom’s reductio ad absurdum: “The necessity of feeling exactly the same things as another person makes empathetic connection, especially with those whose life experiences and personal values may be quite different from our own, all but impossible.” Empathy actually operates in the gap, in difference, and in an awareness that the map is not the territory. It doesn’t flatten or transfer affect. It brings the mind to bear on emotion.

Comments I made before engaging with Paul Bloom, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion.

Inspired by Fitzpatrick, I picked up Bloom's book.

The library catalogue I consulted gave an abstract of Bloom's book based on the paratext (the dust jacket):
"We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don't have enough of it. Nothing could be farther from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In [this book], Bloom [posits that] empathy [is] one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices"--Dust jacket flap.
Within the book, the case is made in a less outlandish fashion (see page 35). For one, Bloom has a highly focused target: "I've been focusing here on empathy in the Adam Smith sense, of feeling what others feel and, in particular, feeling their pain." This reminder comes after a paragraph outlining the argument and the marshalling of examples:
The issues here go beyond policy. I'll argue that what really matters for kindness in our everyday interactions is not empathy but capacities such as self-control and intelligence and a more diffuse compassion. Indeed, those who are high in empathy can be too caught up in the suffering of other people. If you absorb the suffering of others, then you're less able to help them in the long run because achieving long-term goals often requires inflicting short-term pain. Any good parent, for instance, often has to make a child do something, or stop doing something, in a way that causes the child immediate unhappiness but is better for him or her in the future. Do your homework, eat your vegetables, go to bed at a reasonable hour, sit still for this vaccination, go to the dentist. Making children suffer temporarily for their own good is made possible by love, intelligence, and compassion, but yet again, it can be impeded by empathy.
How odd to arrive in the same place; one of us using a bulldozer and the other tweezers.

And so for day 2103

Self as Experiment

Plethora leads ...

It was inevitable that these new versions of nature would complicate traditional moralities. Conflict, chance, survival, reproduction, the family, sexual satisfaction and death were newly minted words in these stories, quickly shedding some of their more familiar associations. Darwin and Freud had produced scientific and quasi-scientific redescriptions of nature as continual flux. There was no longer such a thing as a relatively fixed and consistent person — a person with a recognizable identity — confronting a potentially predictable world, but rather two turbulences enmeshed with each other. If through increasingly sophisticated scientific experiments a new nature was emerging, the new nature was revealing that lives themselves were more like experiments than anything else.
Adam Phillips. Darwin's Worms: On Life Stories and Death Stories

And so for day 2102

Random Pairing

Seduced by its alliteration on the sound of "s" we here lay down the last line of "Sherbourne Morning" by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco in The Tough Romance

sun above them spins halos for angels gone beserk
Coupling this selection with a plucking from Camille Paglia Break, Blow, Burn, selected in a sort of Sortes Vergilianae fashion we come upon her comments on William Blake's London:
Wandering through London's hell, Blake follows the model of Dante as poet-quester cataloguing the horrors of the Inferno. A visitor to the storied British capital in 1793 would have seen a grand, expanding city in economic boom. But the poet, with telepathic hearing and merciless X-ray eyes, homes in on the suffering, dislocation, and hidden spiritual costs of rapid social transformation. The Industrial Revolution, which began in England in the 1770s and would spread globally over the next two centuries, profoundly altered community, personal identity, and basic values in ways we are still sorting out.
Muddling through the themes of angels and Dante, we learn that Di Cicco published a book under the title The Dark Side of Angels and that critics note
There is a marked difference between Di Cicco's early personal poems, which deal with ethnic identity, social conflict and family relationships, and his later poems about philosophical questions, spiritual ideas and broader global problems.
But those questions, we see, are there from the beginning in a kind of Blakean fashion (thanks to the uncanny juxtaposition with Paglia).

you want to get rid of these
little harpies

you want to confess they aren't yours
take the one called song
the way it turns everything you say
into gold
take the one called love
the way it brings out the best in you

get rid of them
there is the real you, ugly and taloned
with eyes like an angel
ready to eat the world
for the first time

from in The Tough Romance
Of course "aquila" translates as "eagle". And "paglia" as "straw". And hence our Rumplestiltskin moment. A rough romance.

And so for day 2101

Play: Wonder, Delight, Choice

Like being open to randomness...

Indeed, bringing play into a central role in a school entails creating a culture that values the core tenets of play: taking risks, making mistakes, exploring new ideas, and experiencing joy.


what is emerging is a model of playful learning with indicators in three overlapping categories: delight, wonder, and choice.
from Towards a Pedagogy of Play: A Project Zero Working Paper by the Pedagogy of Play Research Team [Ben Mardell, Daniel Wilson, Jen Ryan, Katie Ertel, Mara Krechevsky and Megina Baker].

And so for day 2100

Myth Marking

A feminine figurine fighter is graces the cover of the 1992 edition

The 1994 edition is of flag and Mount Rushmore

It's the back cover that attracted by attention with its encounter with the theme of myth-making

Here transcribed
A triumph, transcending the usual pot-pourri of anthologies, and offering us an analysis of North America itself — land of mythology and contradiction.

The Faber Book of America resembles the country it celebrates: a big fat grab-bag filled with brilliance, junk, dizzying contrarieties, fast dreams and rich comforts.
Times Educational Supplement

There are black, Spanish, Chinese, Indian Americas; there are gendered and religiously divided Americas; there are Americans with and without homes. It is a great virtue of Rick's and Vance's anthology that it represents all these strands in American life without losing the thread of the country's hopeful myth about itself.

Ricks and Vance have a lively sense of the troubles that tend to accompany American virtues.
Times Literary Supplement
The Faber Book of America edited by Christopher Ricks and William L. Vance.

And so for day 2099


Some history and some speculation...

The saga of Jefferson and his favorite herb, tarragon, is a typically exasperating story of failure and futility. Jefferson likely encountered tarragon, or estragon, while in Paris as minister to France. After returning home in 1793 he wrote his French neighbor Peter Derieux that it "is little known in America." Perhaps because of tarragon's noticeable absence from the French cuisine at the President's House, Jefferson in 1805 asked J.P. Reibelt, a Swiss book dealer in New Orleans, to procure him seed. The genuine tarragon used for cooking and vinegar rarely produces seed but is easily propagated from root divisions. Jefferson never realized this, and his fervent search for the seeds is a key reason tarragon may never have been established in the garden. By 1813, after various plantings of roots, plants, and seeds, Jefferson reported tarragon in both square XVII and in the submural beds below the garden wall. These were seed-propagated plants from steamy New Orleans and were more likely what is today called Russian tarragon, an inferior sort that mimics but fails to match the sweet, liquorice-like flavor of the genuine article.
Peter J. Hatch. A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello

And so for day 2098


Michele Leggott
Milk & Honey
"tourbillon 1"

I am arrested by a line and a reduplication of sound across meaning

almost the lobe of l'aube
a sliver of morning light comes to mind and the "lobe" becomes breast-like
almost the lobe of l'aube
or the painted nipples sucked hard
and squirting rosewater
full of pectin full of petals, the parallel
world is a mouth mapping
It reminds one of an aubade, a morning love song filled with a serene eros...

And so for day 2097

Ecce Ecco

Look here!

I was intrigued by the "half" anaphora in these opening lines by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco.

Love breaks where no light shines,
this is the dark heaven;
the real thumbnail;
the rain of sadness
Just itching to re-imagine a fulsome anaphora
this is the dark heaven;
this is the real thumbnail;
this is the rain of sadness
But later in the poem I understand the appeal of the "half" anaphora for we come upon a "full" anaphora:
this song is made up of three terrors;
one is the terror of self;
one is the terror of others,
one is the terror of having loved and missed it;
For the life of me I can't follow the punctuation at the end of the lines. It seems as capricious as the terrors — half broken as love.

The unadulterated lines are from "Ecco" in The Tough Romance.

Ecce = Latin for "look"
Ecco = Italian for "here"

And so for day 2096

how sweetly flows that liquefaction

Michael Lavers
from The Burden of Humans in New Ohio Review

The frost tattoos its sermon on the rose,
but in a language only you can read;
Calls to mind poems by Lorna Crozier in The Garden Going On Without Us

Artichokes never
take off their clothes.
They want seduction,
melted butter, a touch
of wild garlic
It is the implied notion of stitch in the frost tattoos that puts me in mind of the clothes in the poem of the vegetable which is gathered under the title "From The Sex Lives of Vegetables". And yet there is a distance between the lightheartedness of Crozier and the pathos of Lavers whose lines continue as the subject continues to regard what is read
The frost tattoos its sermon on the rose,
but in a language only you can read;
you have to know that all things pass and perish,
and that what you’ve said is finite, but continue—
as if grand exceptions might be made—
raking the leaves, stacking the wood, hoping
the child falls asleep against your chest,
hoping the blizzard swerves, knowing the wreckage
of the present will be gathered but
not soon, and not by you, because you’re in it,
there somewhere, under the sheet of snow.
And we are out of it licking the butter-soaked artichokes reading Herrick.

And so for day 2095

The Secret to Dip and Sip

Naomi Duguid
Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan

Occasionally an older person in Iran will dip a sugar cube into the tea and then take a bite of it. This is the story I was told to explain the practice: Sometime long ago (in the late 1800s it seems), there was a dispute between the authorities and some of the foreign (mostly English) sugar merchants about pricing. The authorities wanted the price to stay down, the merchants wanted a higher price. The authorities played hardball by having the mullahs at the mosques declare that sugar was haram, or unclean. Suddenly no one would buy sugar. This forced the merchants back to the negotiating table and eventually a deal was reached. But how to change the decree about sugar being haram? Simple: The mullahs declared that dipping sugar into tea made it clean.
Graham Plaster gives a another take on the story
This came about because in the late 1800s, the Shah of Iran gave a sugar cube concession to a Belgium monopoly which resulted in the bazaari merchants and clergy protesting and issuing a fatwa declaring the Belgian sugar cube as "haram". The royal court swiftly had another mullah issue a rebuttal fatwa declaring that because the Iranian tea was pure and "halal", all Iranians had to do was to dip the sugar cube into the tea and purify it before drinking the tea. To this very day some Iranians do this ritual, many of them not knowing why they do it.
Looks like Plaster drew upon Dariush Gilani
When the bazaari merchants protested against sugar cube concession given to Belgium a clergy gave a fatwa declaring the Belgian sugar cube as “haram”. The royal court swiftly had another mullah issue a rebuttal fatwa declaring that because the Iranian tea was pure and “halal”, all Iranians had to do was to dip the sugar cube into the tea and purify it before drinking the tea. To this very day some Iranians do this ritual, many of them not knowing why they do it.
A good story is worth copying but a note to the source would be nice. One more variation offered by Arron Merat [asked what team is he rooting for and offered tea on the basis of the response]:
"You are for Esteghlal?" one man asks me pointedly. I nod, hoping to guess right. "Then you are my friend." From under his chair he pulls out a little bag from which emerge several tiny glasses, saucers, a flask of tea and a silver dish containing jagged sugar cubes. He pops one between his front teeth as he sips his tea.

He explains that a hundred years ago a cleric issued a fatwa to boycott sugar because the Shah had permitted Belgium an official monopoly on Iran's sugar. Iranians duly followed the fatwa but deemed it highly inconvenient and were relieved when another mullah decreed that it was OK, religiously, to consume sugar with tea as long as it is not mixed in the glass but held in the mouth. Even now, almost all Iranians take their sugar this way.
Now off to put the kettle on...

And so for day 2094

The Human Element: Modern Business Managment

At the beginning of Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook one finds the business principles that guide their philosophy and practice. They are called "Seven Crowns" and they are:

  • Love, respect, and serve family and community
  • Master your craft
  • Make everything delicious
  • Waste nothing
  • Connect customers to the source
  • Innovate through simplicity
  • Be honest and transparent
I want to focus in particular on connecting customers to source. The Mast brothers describe this as
We are nothing without our farmers. In every way possible, we must pay tribute to them and share their work. Connect the dots.
For me, this sets the stage for blockchain technology to be used in the service of source verification. It also speaks to the need for human relations in supply chain management. No technology will suffice on its own.

I like how the crowns interlock. And if one fails, the whole edifice topples.

And so for day 2093

Charm Bibbles Over and Over

I had seen the title many times offered by various booksellers over the years. It was Ruby Tandoh's savouring of the mean aunts that tipped me into actually reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. And indeed Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge are as Tandoh's says "really quite funny".

Who is your favourite literary hero or heroine? Antihero or villain?

This is terrible and deeply childish, but Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker in James and the Giant Peach. They’re so cruel and awful and I kind of love them. They feed James burnt crumbs from the oven and make him run around after them all day and chop wood. They’re always bickering between themselves – you’re too thin, you’re too fat, you’re too lazy – I think they’re really quite funny. Merged together, I see something of myself in them.
Quentin Blake captures their essence

And now to the words of Dahl to see how captivating indeed is their description.
Their names were Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, and I am sorry to say that they were both really horrible people. They were selfish and lazy and cruel, and right from the beginning they started beating poor James for almost no reason at all. They never called him by his real name, but always referred to him as "you disgusting little beast" or "you filthy nuisance" or "you miserable creature," and they certainly never gave him any toys to play with or any picture books to look at. His room was as bare as a prison cell.
All that in one paragraph. Dahl is a prose master — rhythms build inside sentences and among them and occasionally an uncommon word sparkles. Take for instance this description of the bobbing peach:
And indeed they were. A strong current and a high wind had carried the peach so quickly away from the shore that already the land was out of sight. All around them lay the vast black ocean, deep and hungry. Little waves were bibbling against the sides of the peach.
To bibble: the OED informs us is like the dabbling of ducks.

Perfect word in the perfect place and likewise the virtuoso performance of course is at play when describing a virtuoso, the Old-Green-Grasshopper:
He was using only the top of his back leg (the thigh), and he was stroking this up and down against the edge of his wing with incredible skill, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast, but always with the same easy flowing action. It was precisely the way a clever violinist would have used his bow; and the music came pouring out and filled the whole blue sky around them with magic melodies.
Apt self-description of the words on the page!

And so for day 2092

What is a Godlfish?

Pier Giorgio Di Cicco
"Aunt Margaret" from The Tough Romance
1979 rpt Guernica Editions, 1990

There was a marshy patch behind her house. When Sundays
brought the family to her rooms, I'd hunt the
puddled grass for frogs and drown them in a jar, fling them
walls, singe ants with glasses. Inside the house
I drowned the goldfish, choked the parakeets, and made
a paraphernalia of hell the size of those too big to kill.
In Shapeshifter "The Last Breath of One Such As Us", David Livingstone Clink writes a glossa based on this passage and introduces some accidentals (single for singe and godlfish for goldfish) and the lineation is off.
… I'd hunt the puddled grass for frogs
and drown them in a jar, fling them at walls,
single aunts with glasses. Inside the house
I drowned the godlfish, choked the parakeets
A trip to the library to check against the 1979 edition by McClelland and Stewart. The lineation is closer to Clink's quotation.
There was a marshy patch behind her house. When Sundays
brought the family to her rooms, I'd hunt the
puddled grass for frogs and drown them in a jar, fling them at
walls, singe ants with glasses. Inside the house
I drowned the goldfish, choked the parakeets, and made
a paraphernalia of hell the size of those too big to kill
Almost made a transcription error of my own. Reading "puddle grass" for "puddled grass". Such is the power of shapeshifting letters...

Believe Your Own Press, 2004

And so for day 2091

Bundle Magic

I have thought about the similarities of carrying a bundle and having ready-at-hand a smartphone. Both are portable and both offer access to a phenomenological experience that lifts one out of the now into a future-to-be-built-on-the-past. As Beth Cuthand says about bundles

And where he walks, his bundle walks
humming softly old sounds in new time.

     Closing lines of "His Bundle" in Voices in the Waterfall (Lazara Press, 1989)
The affinities came to mind again in reading this piece from the Globe & Mail.

Can we ever kick our smartphone addiction? Jim Balsillie and Norman Doidge discuss
Privacy and mental health are inextricably linked, especially for young people. You need periods of privacy to form a self and an identity, a task not completed until at least the late teens. Having an autonomous, spontaneous self is the result of a long psychological process where you have time to "step back" from the crowd, and from your parents, to reflect. It requires time to let that self – your true feelings, your own quirky, uncurated reactions – emerge, spontaneously.
Time alone with the objects of one's bundle.

But the smartphone in their account falls short. A note of caution is sounded — one of the technologies delivered by a smartphone is a net to capture attention:
The new phones foster enmeshment with parents, and the world, and hamper individuation, the process of becoming a unique individual, because kids are overconnected. And peer groups at that age can be Lord of the Flies cruel – and often love to mercilessly hunt down, expose and denounce the eccentricities of emerging individuals.
Still, even in that enmeshment there must be uncurated moments where one uncrates history. Still.
Louis David, to you
   I transfer my bundle.
It is small and humble
   wrapping little things,
   a bone
   from the last buffalo,
   a stone
   from the Assiniboine,
   a small pipe and
   tobacco pouch
   a feather
   from the broken wing
   of one
   who flew too low.

From Beth Cuthand "He Told Me" in Voice in the Waterfall
On being tracked (and not being located)...
In Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), communicators functioned as a plot device, stranding characters in challenging situations when they malfunctioned, were lost or stolen, or went out of range. (Otherwise, the transporter could have allowed characters to return to the ship at the first sign of trouble, ending the storyline prematurely.[1])
On carrying (and being carried)...
In many Indigenous cultures, bundles play an important role in health and well-being. Physical bundles (i.e. a collection of sacred items that are important to a given person, such as eagle feathers, medicines, a pipe, etc.) are often carried by Indigenous peoples attending ceremony. Similarly, some Indigenous cultures believe that when a child is born they come into the world with a spiritual bundle which holds all of the gifts the Creator gave to them. Both physical and spiritual bundles serve the purpose of helping a person to engage with creation in a healthy and balanced way.

Working with Indigenous families: An engagement bundle for child and youth mental health agencies published by Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health.
Exploring the techne analogies further one comes to appreciate the temporality of use which leads to either interrupted stories or disruptions for stories? Breaks in time to produce the privacy necessary for a strong sense of self.

And so for day 2090

Name Game Dream

A lexically-inflected oneiric moment...

I had a dream about the Indigenization of the [Ontario] civil service.

The Ministry of Education would be known as the Ministry of Human Development. And the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development would be known as the Ministry of Later Human Development (and Seniors Affairs and Long-Term Care would now fall under its purview). Cabinet Office would be known as “All My Relations”. Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation got oddly but aptly renamed “Indigenous Interfaces”.

I woke up before the changes could be ratified.
I truly grok the interfaces piece.

And so for day 2089

Lines, Designs, Reflections

Robbie Robertson "Unbound"

Oh nothing is forgotten
Only left behind
And I open the CD envelope for this production doesn't come in a jewel case.

The eye traverses the space; the mind mends the breach. So like the themes of many of the songs on the album.

Sound is Like Sweetgrass It Tr        avels in Between Worlds

The cover complicates contact by reversing the "C" and other letters — ʇɔɐʇuoɔ brought to life here by the mirror generator  

Finding a way to lost tools.

And so for day 2088


At the very beginning of her introduction, Elisabeth Andoh sets the bar high:

KANSHA means "appreciation," an expression evident in many aspects of Japanese society and daily living. In a culinary context, the word acknowledges both nature's bounty and the efforts and ingenuity of people who transform that abundance into marvellous food. In the kitchen and at table, in the supermarket and out in the gardens, fields, and waterways, kansha encourages us to prepare nutritionally sound and aesthetically satisfying meals that also avoid waste, conserve energy, and sustain our natural resources.
from Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions

And so for day 2087

Pity the Partitions

Juxtaposing Emily Dickinson with Jean Genet's Un chant d'amour and its famous exchange of smoke.

I plucked at our Partition
As One should pry the Walls —
Between Himself — and Horror's Twin —
Within Opposing Cells —

I almost strove to clasp his Hand,
Such Luxury — it grew —
That as Myself — could pity Him —
Perhaps he — pitied me —
It is the reciprocal emotion — so near —

And so for day 2086

Tapping Into Shaker Love of Rhyme and Rhythm

I have grown in my appreciation of the literary and artistic productions of the Shakers (not just their exquisite buildings and furniture) thanks to the Hamilton College Library, Clinton, NY

Rhymes of Animals

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette writes. "I strung the following rhymes together to tickle the ears of my little boys, four and six years old. They tease their mamma to read it over and over again, and they fetch the big illustrated dictionary to have her point out the funny animals with such strange names and tell what she can about them. This fancy for rhyme and rhythm is, I suppose, a characteristic of nearly all children, and perhaps the publication of this will amuse a wider circle than my little household. The aim has been, after euphony, to have the most incongruous animals in juxtaposition."
I was sent to the source (Shaker Manifesto, July 1882) by A Peaceable Kingdon: the Shaker Abecedarious illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. I note some variants. The Provensens split Guinea Pig into two words and add an "s" to Xanthos. Otherwise it is the same fascinating list. Augmented by their delicate drawing which a scan doesn't do justice.

While reading the Shaker Manifesto, I notice on the page previous to the ABC in the Society Record - death announcements including the suicide of Charles Miner done in a very understanding fashion touching by its approach to mental health.

And so for day 2085

Zen of Cooking - Zazen of Eating

Ruby Tandoh invites us to be contemplative...

Waiting for a pan of water to come to the boil is a kind of therapy — being forced to slow down, chill out and be patient while you watch a shimmer of movement creep across the water, as the heat brings it to life.
And immediately knocks us for a loop into sensuality.
And that's before you've even started eating...
from the introduction to Flavour: Eat What You Love.

And so for day 2084

Être Autre

In the days I whiled away as a would-be academic, I thought about challenging the dominant position of dyads in theorizing about communication and learnt from observing the teaching situation:

Pedagogical situations are sensory. They are also interpersonal. Because they are sensory this makes even learning by oneself interpersonal. Egocentric speech is like a dialogue between the senses. In Vygotsky's and Luria's experiments, children placed in problem-solving situations that were slightly too difficult for them displayed egocentric speech. One could consider these as self-induced metadiscursive moments. The self in crisis will disassociate and one's questionning becomes the object of a question.

Storing and Sorting
Years later, I am struck by the concluding paragraphs to Karin Cope's Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live With Gertrude Stein and her call to enter into the play of a play.
As I hope this play makes clear, I am not asking my reader to suspend his or her judgment of Stein or of me (as if such a thing were possible anyway); what I am asking is that when we look at how Stein made and revised or "forgot" certain judgments, we consider also how we do such things as well. A judgement should not be simply another name for foreclosure; a play, I hope (matched by all of its notes), opens up the space where it is not.

I will be glad if you begin to hear insistent other voices, voices you do not yet think of as your own, demanding of you, their author, an audience. If that happens then perhaps the play, or I, or Stein will have done our work.
And imagine my delight when I read this epigraph to a paper by Willard McCarty (Modelling, ontology and wild thought)
The only way you can catch yourself in the act of reflecting on yourself is by becoming another self – a self which, when it looks down on your reflecting self, will not be included in the reflection. If you want to understand yourself better, you always have to keep on the move.

Jonathan Rée, I See a Voice (1999)
As I concluded back then
The fracturable affiliable self calls for reproductive models suitable to the interactions of multi-sensate beings, models that render dyads dialectical, questionable, answerable. Narrativity understood dialectically does not merely mean making sequences or strings of events into stories but also stories into things, strung together for more stories. From such an understanding, emerge non-dyadic narratives of reproduction, narratives where a thing-born transforms itself into an event, comes to understand itself as a process.
The ever elusive event...

And so for day 2083

Classic Chanel

As reported by John Fairchild in The Fashionable Savages

Chanel had said many times: "I love luxury and luxury lies not in the richness, or ornateness, but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the fashion game to fight it."
I was put on to Fairchild's book by hearing an interview with André Leon Talley who rings the changes (at 5:25 into the interview) on the notion of "grace" which propels and impels the young boy from humble beginnings in the segregated South to the stratosphere.

And so for day 2082

Old Novelty

Awoke from a dream with these lines in mind:

To write the New English is to displace and replace. To read it is to reknit syntax.
I'm glad I committed the lines to paper; easier to remember.

And so for day 2081

Countercannon: The Threading of Names or On the Esthetic Interest of Exclusion

We need to quote at length for you to experience the rumble.

A kind of countercannon of works runs parallel to the canon we traditionally think of as the literary. Often its works are ones for which a more or less massive critical attempt was mounted to enter them at a respectable place in the traditional canon, and usually most literary historians would have to say that, for whatever reasons (usually because other critics resisted), the attempts have failed.

These works are in a very different position from those that, for a season or even a decade or more, achieve a general public popularity because the authors are well spoken and because there is nothing in the works so aesthetically offensive that literary critics feel called upon actively to denounce them. Often these works would appear to have joined the ranks of the immortals, only to be forgotten after still another decade or so, when their simple banality finally subverts all actual critical interest: one thinks of Archibald MacLeish's silly play J.B. (1958), Robinson Jeffer's mawkish redaction (another wildly free paraphrase from Euripides this time) of Medea (1946) [We studied this in high school in the 70s - FL], or even Tony Kushner's AIDS fairy tale Angels in America, Parts I and II (1993). All three have been declared, in their moments, icons of culture, but, stripped of the artful performances that briefly enlivened them, all three are less than memorable.

Works in the countercannon retain their interest, however. They are constantly being rediscovered. The 1890s is famous for a whole string of such works, though, indeed, to limit the ones associated with the nineties to that decade in any strict way would be far too absolute. It must go back at least as far as 1881, when twenty-six-year-old Olive Schreiner decided to leave South Africa with the just completed manuscript of her mystical — in the best sense — novel, The Story of an African Farm. The book was published in England in 1883, when she was twenty-eight. But during the nineties it was the most talked-about novel of the decade, at least among the poets of the Rhymers' Club — and rightly so. Now one stumbles across excited encomia about it in the letters of Ernest Dowson, now one uncovers an account of Arthur Symons, some few years before his final breakdown in Italy, enthusiastically urging it on the author of Marius the Epicurean, Walter Pater. Indeed we might even want to extend this line back to James Thomson's City of Dreadful Night, which appeared over four numbers of the National Reformer between March and May of 1874 — a work that grows from the same failure of organized Christianity that produced Schreiner's account of her characters' moral ordeals (with its uncanny, transvestial ending) on another continent in the year before Thomson died from tuberculosis in London, complicated by advanced dipsomania, on June 2nd of 1882.

The poems of Dowson (Verses, 1896; The Pierrot of the Minute, 1897; and the posthumous volume Decorations), with their unarguable verbal beauties, belong to this same line of works — if not the equally delicate tales he produced and published in the volume Dilemmas: Stories and Studies in Sentiments (1895) and in The Yellow Book. So do the more demanding — for the modern reader: because of their religious weight — poems of Lionel Pigot Johnson and Francis Thompson, if not the work of Alice Meynell. Indeed, the "productions of the nineties" continue on at least through 1904, when "Frederick, Baron Corvo" published his extraordinary novel, Hadrian the Seventh, a year after Samuel Butler's novel The Way of All Flesh saw posthumous publication in 1903. Indeed, Butler's novel, which he began in 1873 and competed in 1884, is a work contemporary with Schreiner's novel. Butler's novel, with its iconoclastic satire, was taken into the canon almost immediately while Corvo's, with its far more conservative politics, its wildly erudite religious superstructure and its barely suppressed fantasy — the writing is simply gorgeous — has led a far more problematic life at the margins of the literary, despite the praise of every one from D.H. Lawerence to W.H. Auden.

Looking at the range of such counterworks, one notices first the catastrophic lives their writers tended to live: the artists who produced them do not lend themselves to any easy version of the literary myth that art ennobles the artist's life — at least not in any nonironic and socially evident manner. If anything, they suggest that art is a bitch goddess who ravages the creator and leaves a distressing, pathetic ruin behind. It would seem that the canon can absorb a bit of such pathos, but in nowhere near the amounts that predominate in the range of highly talented creators; and it is rare that (with a lot of posthumous critical help) a John Keats, a Percy Shelley, an Edgar Allan Poe, or a Hart Crane makes it across the canonical border. And in terms of the reception of all these, all are poets who, at one time or another, verged on being confined to the countercannon. (How interesting it is to observe the posthumous critical reduction currently going on of W.H. Auden from the poetic giant he was during the last thirty years of his life to a "more or less interesting poet," for no other reason that I can discern — in the half-dozen recent studies and biographies of him I have read — than that [it does not even seem to be his homosexuality] he occasionally neglected his clothing, his St. Mark's Place apartment was a mess, and he drank.) As a group, however, the countercannon poets tend toward a brilliance of surface that suggests an excess of aesthetic relations in their texts constituting both their enjoyment and the permanence of their esthetic interest despite their regular canonical exclusion.
Samuel R. Delany "Remarks on Narrative and Technology, or Poetry and Truth" published in Technoscience and Cyberculture.

And so for day 2080

Sparrow Renewal

This is the opening which could suffice unto itself — the rest is all there in the intimation of a new season.

Catching winter in their carved nostrils
the traitor birds have deserted us,
leaving only the dullest brown sparrows
for spring negotiations.
Leonard Cohen
Lets Us Compare Mythologies
"The Sparrows"

And so for day 2079

Double Flip Slide

Paul Bocuse (Bocuse in Your Kitchen) provides instructions for how to handle the flipping of a pan-sized potato crêpe.

Cook over moderately high heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the underside has browned then slide the crêpe out into a large plate. [...] then place a second plate on top of the crêpe and turn it upside down. Lift off the first plate and slide the crêpe back into the pan to finish cooking 6 to 8 minutes on the second side. Serve immediately.
Technique, so simple, counts.

And so for day 2078

Hanging from the Monkey Bars

In Fish Bones, Gillian Sze grabs you by the shifts in tense, keeps you bouncing about in time frames. And aptly it's the opening to a poem called "The Shaman's Dance" that offers the perfect locus upon which to pin this observation:

From my kitchen window, I see
someone's left a stroller in the alleyway,
a man pull flattened cardboard boxes out of a dumpster,
the tree's bareness open to the sky's scalp.
Is the man pulling or has he pulled? One is tempted to offer to inflect the verb but there is another way to read the accidental: a man's pull flattened... so that the apostrophe "s" from the previous line and from the following line gets repeated. someone's, a man's, the tree's.

I gather my cue from Sze's "I Still Think So" turning around and hanging from the syntactic monkey bars.
I Still Think So

I was nine
when I discovered
that I looked prettier
in photographs
when they were turned
upside down.
Doesn't "a man's pull flattened cardboard boxes" look pretty?

And so for day 2077

Having Doing

Experience versus Theory

These days you have to have a P.H.D.
In the old days all you had to do was
Ishmael Reed "Tea Dance Turns Thirty-Nine" in A Secretary to the Spirits

And so for day 2076

The Drinking Dog; The Drunk Scholar

Karin Cope. Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live With Gertrude Stein

Not to mention the dog!

Yes, that's it. In fact, I began to hear the dog because I had begun to think about writing again for myself. And to do that you have to take certain risks, you cannot be looking for the questions or the answers, you have to be willing to enter into a space of not-knowing-where-you're-going, a space of a certain kind of floating, of absent-mindedness, of indistinct boundaries, a space where what you know and what you experience are intimately linked — in which they have to have a relation to one another. In short, I had to start living again, to value the small details of my own life again, in order to hear the dog, and to begin to understand Stein. There's a wonderful thing that weekend painter Joanna Field — who is also the psychoanalyst Marion Milner — says in her book On Not Being Able To Paint. Arguing that creating, in the sense of artwork or invention, can only happen within a protected space, "a place for absent-mindedness," that the environment has to provide a framework "in which we are freed, for the time being, from the need for immediate practical expedient action," she suggests that you must have, both in yourself, as well in those around you, "a tolerance of something which may at moments look very like madness." Then she goes on to say something that begins to get at the crux of this play issue we've not really quite addressed yet:
The question then arises, are we going to treat all phenomena that are often talked of under that heading as symptoms, something to be got rid of, or can we, in our so objectively-minded culture, come to recognise them as something to be used, in their right place? In our childhood we are allowed to act, move, behave, under the influence of illusions, to play "pretend" games and even get lost in our play, feel for the moment that it is real. In adult life it is less easy to find settings where this is possible (we get other people to do the pretending, on the films and the stage), although we do find it within the framework of the analytic session as patients.
The story of the dog…
Okay, here it is. Perhaps you've heard that peculiar claim that Stein makes in How to Write: "Sentences are not emotional, paragraphs are"? She explains this insight by saying she understood it when she listened to her dog drinking. This made no sense to me for years, for maybe ten years. I accepted it — what else was I supposed to do with it? What are you going to say about such an utterance and its peculiar justification — that it's false? How would you prove that? Then one day I was — well, you have to know, I had just then started to live on a farm and we had a dog there and for years I'd not lived in a house with a dog, for twenty years maybe. So that day I was sitting there, and the dog came in and began lapping at her bowl. And so I thought of Stein's phrase and said it, and all of a sudden I understood it. For there was the sound of the dog's lapping, a kind of rise and fall, very punctual, and there was great exuberance in the repetition of the sound of her tongue hitting the water and scooping a tongueful back into her mouth, a kind of kew-lup, kew-lup, kew-lup sound, and I realized that if you took only one of those laps then, well, the whole thing would mean nothing to you, it would be sort of incomplete, emotionless. Never mind that the dog would not really get any water, you yourself would not be able to figure out what was going on, you would develop some thirst in relation to this lapping —
Thirst-in-relation-to-lapping — a kind of will to meaning that is only satisfied by being in the world?

And so for day 2075


Marcella Hazan in the introduction to The Classic Italian Cookbook stresses the seasons.

The sober winter taste, the austere whites and gray-greens of artichokes, cardoons, celery, cauliflower; the sweetness and the tender hues of spring in the first asparagus, the earliest peas, baby carrots, young fava beans; the voluptuous gifts of summer: the luscious eggplant, the glossy green pepper, the sun-reddened tomato, the succulent zucchini; the tart and scented taste of autumn in leeks, finocchio, fresh spinach, red cabbage; these do more than quiet our hunger. Through their presence the act of eating becomes a way of sharing our life with nature. And this is precisely what is at the heart of the Italian art of eating.
I like how the tour through the seasons shifts its punctuation as well as its all-vegetable cast.

And so for day 2074

Whither Eros

Howard Gardner (5 Minds for the Future) on the Respectful Mind…

We homo sapiens must somehow learn how to inhabit neighboring places — and the same planet — without hating one another, without lusting to injure or kill one another, without acting on xenophobic inclinations even if our own group might emerge triumphant in the short turn. Often the desideratum tolerance is invoked, and it may be the case that it is all that we can aspire to. Wordsmiths of a more optimistic temperament opt for romantic language; on the eve of World War II, poet W.H. Auden declared, "We must love one another or die."
Gardner sets this up as mere pretty words. Indeed he continues in the next paragraph to accept neither love nor hate.
I prefer the concept of respect. Rather than ignoring differences being inflamed by them, or seeking to annihilate them through love or hate. I call on human beings to accept the differences, learn to live with them, and value those who belong to other cohorts.
After this dismissal, I needed to see for myself just what the poet was advancing. That bit from Auden is the last line of the penultimate stanza of September 1, 1939 which ends with this stanza:
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Composed: both made up and serene. The key is in the affirmative irony. Although Gardner poses Auden's adage as if it were a completely isolated sentence, we can construe a less than monological meaning upon reviewing its context. It's part of a series that actually endorses Gardner's beyond-the-cohort view:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
That "we" becomes more complex in context. We, both citizen and police, are not alone. And hunger impels the choice. Or rather negates the choice. We die. But how we die depends upon how we love.

And so for day 2073

Again A Gain

Like playing hangman.

REPETITION. — It is an excellent thing to express a thing consecutively in two ways, and thus provide it with a right and a left foot. Truth can stand indeed on one leg, but with two she will walk and complete her journey.
Nietzsche, Human All Too Human

Came across this via a recommendation by Dr. Herbert Wender to look at "The Wanderer and his Shadow" and was assured that a walk through this text was "virtually a real 'Wanderlust'".

And so for day 2072

Setting The Pace: Pacing the Set

The opening chapter of Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking brings the simple act of walking into the gambit of cogitation.

Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time, the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations. The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.
And as if she were ringing the changes on the notion of inventio — the finding:
A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along as though thinking were travelling rather than making.
If we retrace the paragraph we hear the consonance between "traversing" and "travelling". It is all mapped out and yet open to rediscovery.

And so for day 2071

Where Has Been There Will Be

This begins like a call and response and turns into a round and then closes with a synoptic clincher.

Answer July ... #386

Answer July -
Where is the Bee -
Where is the Blush -
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July -
Where is the Seed -
Where is the Bud -
Where is the May -
Answer Thee - Me -

Nay - said the May -
Show me the Snow -
Show me the Bells -
Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay -
Where be the Maize -
Where be the Haze -
Where be the Bur?
Here - said the Year -
Emily Dickinson varies the verbs in the questions and thereby conditions the move out of time to view the whole cycle. Each of the three initial stanzas has a single speaker. The last stanza has two. And the one last voice has only one line — adding a curt aspect to its decisiveness.

And so for day 2070

Almost a Scar

It's a wonderfully rambling poem & A Serial Poem by Daryl Hine which through a circuitous route brings you back to a variation on a Latin tag about omens and spirit once in a negation and once in an affirmation and both times apt for the spot in the cycle.

Here are two lines (from #280)

Psychosomatic pain is all it takes
To convince us every poem is an open wound.
There is a tiny grain of skepticism here. It is salutary.

Like the cover

We are asked to think the next turn and recall "and"

And so for day 2069

Breath Unto Breath

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. (Psalm 42:7)

Some, of course do pass out — right out of the circle. But if anything besides rage is clear in these drowning surroundings, it's the clarity of those few who seem to quicken in their sickness and dying, those gifted few who stay awake as they fall away, and offer to us attendant comrades instructions from the beyond, or the going-beyond. [1991]

Aaron Shurin "Further Under" from Unbound: A Book of AIDS collected in The Skin of Meaning: Collected Literary Essays and Talks.
How to live to the very last moment these our teachers gave to us. And what does this mean? An example is how Shurin reads Jean Genet's trail of smoke in Un Chant d'Amour: "When one prisoner passes his lifebreath of cigarette smoke through a hole in the wall along the length of a straw to his friend, it contains the beauty of every secret exchange, glance, letter, or touch passed from man to man or woman to woman through the ages of heterosocial domination. And honey, nobody — not even Bette Davis — has ever, before or since, smoked on screen like that! [1990]

A going-beyond…

And so for day 2068

Counting Sections

Phillip B. Williams

"He Loved Him Madly" is a partial (15-section) pecha kucha for my father, Calvin Ford, and uses titles from Miles Davis compositions (odd-numbered stanzas) and various Hip Hop and spoken word tracks (even-numbered stanzas). In order of appearance, artists of the even-number stanzas are Boogie Down Productions, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Amiri Baraka, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, and Nas.
from the notes to Thief in the Interior

And with the note that makes 16.

And so for day 2067

The Text Stares Back

In John Edgar Wideman's Hiding Place there is a passage which puts one in mind of Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille if only because of the preponderance of eyes.

Once upon a time. Once upon a time, he thought, if them stories I been hearing all my life are true, once upon a time they said God's green earth was peaceful and quiet. […] You're in a story. […]
And it continues.

And so for day 2066

Nobody's Mama

John Edgar Wideman. Hiding Place.

When you finish you bring that bowl up here. That's all there is and ain't nothing else. Just set it here by mine. We ain't got no waitress service here. I don't like to cook. Never did and never will. Don't like people talking about my cooking, neither. If people like what I fix they can eat. If they don't they can leave it setting. Don't like all that Mother Bess stuff neither. Wish I knew who started that Mother Bess mess. I ain't nobody's mama. Was once but that was a million pitiful years ago and ain't nobody on this earth got the right going around calling me mother now. I told them that. Don't know how many times I told them. But it's Mother Bess this and Mother Bess that like I ain't got sense enough to know my own name and they ain't got sense to listen when I tell them I ain't nobody's mama.
If you think that this diatribe is gratuitous, you need to be mindful of the step and fetchit grinning and praise of the soup that preceded this: "You make some dynamite soup, Mother Bess. It's not him talking. it's some jive jack-leg preacher grinning and wiping grease from his liver lips and rolling his eyeballs at the platter of fried chicken he's already eateh half of…"

And so for day 2065

In the XML World

Sometimes possibilities open with the correct confluence of languages.

I have been following with interest the recent (and ancient) thread on interdisciplinarity. I am intrigued by not only bridges but the building blocks of bridges.

I wonder if, at a sufficiently abstract level, some of those blocks may exist in the practice of markup. Markup aims to create a structured object.

Historically, we have come to a point where languages that express such a structured object can also be used to transform the structured object. Given the wise practise of documenting the decisions that lead to the creation of the structured object, in a sense a metalanguage is available to serve as a bridge between disciplines and further conversations about objects and their transformations.

In this light, one might consider the Text Encoding Initiative as a multidisciplinary project.

Notice I have avoided the mention of "method" in favour of "practice".
This little message to Humanist seems terse but what an abyss lurks in the distance between method and practice.

And so for day 2064

A Tool in the Sky

To fully appreciate the bravura of the ending to this poem, you need to recall the beginning. "a brief history of time" concludes "the mezzaluna rocking" section of Heartland by Michele Leggott.

the book slips past my ears
on the flight over      three hours
following the sun folding up corporeal
reality and I'm not finished as we begin
the descent into      earlier      tray tables
secured seats in the upright position     not
a molecule lighter or less perturbed
than the cold air under our wings      we step
back in the same day and forget an hour
the spooling voice entered and can't leave
or leaves many times without us      going on
split or spilt from departures arrivals terminals
the book slips by and I am not done


[…]      the mezzaluna
rocking out along the bay or through the fine crust
pulled from the hot oven      the mezzaluna of doubt
of two hands of cutting it fine      as the doors close
the bell clangs and the drunk begins his hyena call
to the black universe then charms a small boy in a paper hat
it's my birthday too very same as yours same as you      I am
going to see my friends all my friends tonight      seven days
of crossings going off like steel drums      again and again
we say goodbye and walk into Hill of Content where the book
opens itself to the very page I was on      real or imagined
starting over on the way back against the turn of the earth
We are not done. We are undone.

The half moon in the heavens. The half moon in the hand.


And so for day 2063

Agreeing to Perpetual Commotion

Inscribed under the sign of fado, Michele Leggott's conclusion to milk & honey is an expansive poem called "wild light" whose ending opens the mind onto wide vistas


travelling light
because our hearts
those crazy old caloyers
have gone on ahead
with all the stories on a string
all the stories in the world
waiting to happen
light swings between us
luminous and dispersive
anguish no anguish
I won't be back this way again
but the world of light
throws its salts into the sky
one more time
foam dew clouds lightning
and on this arm
of the harbouring planet
we look up and agree to live
in perpetual commotion
a new moon and just below it
the evening star

Anchored in place and on a thread raising to source of light.

And so for day 2062

4 Down: Inhabitant of Lesbos

I have heard variations on this joke but here it takes on a charm of its own.


(looking up from her crossword page)

"Don't be silly, dear. You're Scandanavian."
from Julie Marie Wade, When I Was Straight

And so for day 2061

Stark Consequences

Nigel Slater. Real Fast Food. On improvization…

If you get halfway through a recipe and find that the curical ingredient is missing, then you must experiment or starve.
He goes on to observe in a variation on the adage that necessity is the mother of invention: "Improvization is a wonderful thing. It is how cooking moves forward."

And so for day 2060

yr utopia: dreem not uv its prfekshun

bill bissett - The Gypsy Dreamer
Director: Luis De Estores
Described as "an evocative, multifaceted portrait of acclaimed Canadian poet, artist, singer, and peer mental health advocate, bill bissett".

"forget living a normal life that's my message of hope, my message of hope is try and most successfully, most organically, most exquisitely, most happily, live your own life"
Caroline Bayard and Jack David have a wonderfully evocative description of bill bissett in the introduction to Out-posts / Avant-postes
bissett, in performance, relies absolutely on the poem: he does not supply anecdotes about when and why the poem was written and he often commences a reading by chanting one of his single-line (many times repeated) poems, such as "day go day go my heart a cum home a". To first-time bissett observers, his chanting, Indian-like poems, and his rattle, often come as a surprise or a revelation. Each performance differs as the "spirit" indicates, for there are no definite patterns to follow.
I was privileged to hear him live here at Glad Day Bookshop in the Poetic Justice series. He did indeed open with a chant. And I'm so glad that Luis De Estores captured some of the magic. it mks the or din airy speshul

And so for day 2059

The Way the Wind Blows

Reversing paragraphs in our source — evoking taste then its source.

First the explication:

It's this breeze, the legend states, that makes up the secret ingredient of Prosciutto di Parma, drying the ham to its signature sweetness and making it one of the most popular varieties of Italian prosciutto – its name recognized around the world.
Next the description of motive force:
Dating back to 100 BC, historians have remarked on this ham produced in Parma. According to legend, the breeze from the Versilia coast drifts through the olive trees of the Magra Valley, picking up the fragrance from the chestnut trees before settling in the hills of Parma.

And so for day 2058

Paths to the the Pleasure Spot

There are some books you wish you had come across sooner…

As the letters empty and reverse themselves, becoming their outlines, their own shadows, the reader sees and/or establishes connections between the images: "anybody looking at something," Nichol has said, "takes a path through it, and that creates a narrative. So the best you can hope for is to present a text which demands of the reader that they organize it themselves."

          Stephen Scobie. bpNichol: What History Teaches. p. 50.
You see from 1968 on we really got obsessed with trying to get to a non-narrative prose. Was it possible? Steve [McCaffery] and I finally came to see that, no, it was totally impossible. In fact, anybody looking at something, takes a path through it, and that creates a narrative. So the best you can hope for is to present a text which demands of the reader that they organize it themselves.

          Caroline Bayard and Jack David. Out-posts / Avant-postes p. 27. [interview with bpNicol]
La seule vérité c'est le plaisir du texte, le plaisir du corps. Si, pour moi, la transgression est importante, transgresser la loi, la hiérarchie, cela veut dire s'approprier des lieux de plaisir, non des lieux de production. Je dis cela en tant que poète. Parce qu'en tant que femme, dans la lutte des femmes, je veux m'approprier du pouvoir, et avoir un pouvoir de négotiation. Mais en tant que poète, ma priorité, c'est le plaisir.

          Caroline Bayard and Jack David. Out-posts / Avant-postes p. 72. [interview with Nicole Brossard]
This would have been great to weave into my considerations of "Storing and Sorting" where I could have made a greater connection between the treatment of sequences (narrativity) and jouissance.

And so for day 2057

Casting the Speculum

At the mention of "Andrew", the phrase "fishers of men" popped into my head and dragged the rest of the poem into an interpretation where the first catch is the self.

The beauty of Titian's Peter—you'd swear
those painted arms were flesh.
He's fishing with Andrew, the two of them arguing,
hauling their heavy nets into the boat.
They bend to the lake's mirror: among reflected reeds,
a heron's image turning its liquid head to hunt.
And the floating shapes of men—necks, lips, bellies—
their bodies' second life on the surface of water.
"Beauty as an Evolutionary Strategy"
Mary Cornish
Red Studio

And so for day 2056

Transcendental Orphans

There is a smart aleck joke in the notes to Stephen Scobie's bpNichol: What History Teaches. First the text block on page 118 that provides the "anchor" for the note in question.

But, given the multiplicity of language, this whole myth can also be read in another direction, and the The Martyrology can be seen as a drama of the continuing redemption of language. Poststructuralism celebrates the absence of the "father," that is, of the very notion of a "Transcendental Signified" which would act as origin, source, and sanction for a stable system of signifiers. As I put it in Chapter 1, "The sign is empty; we are all orphaned in language."10
And so the note:
10 See above, p. 00 [in TS, Chapter 1, pg.17].
Page Double Zero? No title abbreviates to TS in the bibliography. Transcendental Signifier? [Signified?] There is at page 17 of Chapter 1 the self quotation:
Roland Barthes observes that "every narrative (every unveiling of the truth) is a staging of the (absent, hidden, or hypostatized) father": 26 the idea of narrative as an Oedipal quest should come as no surprise to any reader of Journal. Here we may briefly anticipate a later stage of the argument, and observe that the missing parent (a prevalent figure in Canadian literature)27 is equivalent to the absence of the "transcendental signified" in poststructuralist linguistics. The sign is empty; we are all orphaned in language. As Nichol longs to reach the (m)other through the diversity of language, that very diversity demonstrates the impossibility of concluding the quest.
Amazing if you squint a little that double zero 00 looks like an infinity symbol.

And so for day 2055

Follow the Breath

This little set of verses set as an "exergue" reminds one of the practice of being mindful of breathing.

"Will you come?" said the Sun.
"Soon," said the Moon.
"How far?" said the Star.
"I'm there," said the Air.

A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems of Innocent and Experienced Travellers by Nancy Willard. Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen.

And so for day 2054

Perspective & Proportion

Mary Cornish
from "The Laws of Japanese Painting"
in Red Studio

If a mountain is ten feet high, the trees
should be one foot, the horse one inch, and a man
the size of a bean.
The image of the bean brings to mind for me those primary school projects where a bean is sprouted in a glass and we could see the hairs on the roots and the leaves unfold from the cotyledon. Without proper soil of course they perished. Of course any plant eventually perishes. Such are the thoughts that grow from contemplating man as bean.

And so for day 2053

Blackboy Utopia

Danez Smith in Don't Call Us Dead creates a utopian space in which to reinvigorate the Black psyche through an artful homoerotics. He saves the body. The mind bends the body politic to imagine another place and another time beyond wounds.

that boy was Trayvon, now called RainKing.
that man Sean named himself i do, i do.

O, the imagination of a new reborn boy
but most of us settle on alive.

from "summer, somewhere"
The fanciful can take a whimsical turn (which then turns to a deep contemplation of the logics of culture).
let's make a movie calld Dinosaurs in the Hood.
Jurassic Park meets Friday meets The Pursuit of Happyness.
there should be a scene where a little black boy is playing
with a toy dinosaur on the bus, then looks out the window
& sees the T.rex, because there has to be a T.rex


no bullet holes in the heroes. & no one kills the black boy. & no one kills
the black boy. & no one kills the black boy. besides, the only reason
i want to make this is for the first scene anyway: little black boy
on the bus with his toy dinosaur, his eyes wide & endless

                                         his dreams possible, pulsing, & right there.

from "dinosaurs in the hood"
As crazy as a Barmecide feast in Peter Pan or a generalized ability to manipulate illusions
if you don't
eat the imaginary potato (grown in an
imaginary field, baked in in imaginary
oven) your real capacity
to imagine illusion lessens:

A.R. Ammons from The Ridge Farm
Worth noting that "illusion" has in its etymological roots in the verb "to mock" — a defence mechanism. [Middle English (in the sense 'deceiving, deception'): via Old French from Latin illusio(n-), from illudere 'to mock,' from in- 'against' + ludere 'play.']

And so for day 2052

Time and In-Betweenness

What is amazing in Mary E. Galvin's Queer Poetics: Five Modernist Women Writers is her ability to draw upon sources that might be disdained in academic or theory circles. Witness what she does accomplish with an image from Judy Grahn while discussing the figure of the Poetess in H.D. [of course she also draws upon Robert Duncan's The H.D. Book). What emerges is a fuller understanding of the figure and its import.

Motivated by the need to open up social/intellectual/psychic space for queer existence, H.D. sought, in the freedom of modernism, to piece together the significance of her personal experiences through the techniques of imagism within the palimpsest of myth. This is the ancient role of the Poetess, the role H.D. recreated for herself. In Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn has described this office:
In tribal culture we often formed a pool of potential initiates some of whom became the shamans and medicine people, who can enter the spirit world, the wind, the mountains and rivers and the bottom of the sea; the worlds of the dead, or spirits, of other people's minds, of the gods and their forces; we it is who bring back the strange and old messages, interpreting them for the benefit of our tribe. Anciently we were sometimes rewarded and esteemed for this (Grahan, 273)
The difficulty in reading H.D.'s poetry arises not because she was being intentionally obscurantist in regard to the facts of her life, but because she was attempting to convey "another state of emotional life or being, a life of being that contained the past and the future."
Galvin is quoting from H.D.'s Paint It Today
The past and the future, morning and evening star, hung there, a beacon in the darkness between this world and the future, the present and the future. She had, through the clarity of her youth, through the intensity of her passion, and through that fate or chance that had thrown her in Josepha's way at a curious psychological moment (at the moment when she had been touched by the shadow of an understanding, stirred by it, but not awakened), surprised a curious secret, surprised the secret and found the door to another world, another state of emotional life or being, a life of being that contained the past and the future.
Such transhistorical moves are of course of their time.

In its own reach, this discourse with its universalizing the of the interstitial function works in the context of some poets such as H.D. and Robert Duncan. Odd. As in queer.

And so for day 2051

Filial Fragments

Richard Ronan. "Violets". Flowers.

this is a farewell poem:
stephan was like my son
in many ways I mean:
like a son I maybe wanted
to have and didn't and
evidently won't have I
know that part of wanting
a son for any man is a
bid for something immortal
or at least a second swing
at what he left unresolved
another part is like lust
Andrew Holleran. "Foreword". The Man I Might Become: Gay Men Write About Their Fathers.
In his book Being Homosexual, Richard Isay suggests that this alienation between gay men and their fathers begins in childhood when the father, sensing they are different, withdraws. This is not to say that fathers are still not enormous presences in the lives of their gay sons. Fathers have always been, in life and literature, a mystery we believe we must decipher before we can understand ourselves.
Robert Glück. "Robert Duncan: Tribute". Communal Nude: Collected Essays.
In the late seventies, a poetry event took place over two nights at the Gay/Lesbian Center on Page Street. Twelve gay men and twelve lesbians read together. This was a very novel idea at the time because the two communities hardly spoke to each other, and the atmosphere was tense. One woman read a poem about a mother verbally abusing her little boy on a bus. There was nervous laughter from some of the men, and the poet stopped midway. Trembling with rage, she told us that she had read the poem many times at women-only events and had never experienced laughter. There was total silence, till Robert called out from the audience that none of those women had ever been the boy in her poem.
Two memories of my own father:
Sitting on one end of the couch nestled close to him, an open book on my lap. He taught me to read.

At potato harvesting or planting (I'm not sure which), a spade raised against me in anger. It never descended.
I now read a queer subtext into the lyrics of Father and Son by Cat Stevens: at the very least the song is dual-voiced. A paternal figure in the refrain "Find a girl, settle down / If you want, you can marry / Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy" and what we take to be the son coming to the realization that he must go, he is not heard, "From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen".

There are other songs. Other fragments. To read. To query identifications.

And so for day 2050

Confronting the Unread; Reconfronting the Read

I find myself thinking of being in a library.

In the Buddhist worldview, the entire conditioned reality in which we live is called samsara: the world of birth and death, arising and passing. This is our life. One of the amazing attributes of samsara is that no matter what we have or what is available to us, we know that somewhere out there, there is always more. The potential for dissatisfaction is infinite, because in this world of change, there is no end to arising and passing away, and the possibilities for comparing and wanting are endless.

Sharon Salzberg. Lovingkindness.
Countless books and countless roadways to reading and re-reading.

And so for day 2049

Typology and Function

Proposed typology of gay literature

- community building
- coming out
- passing
- closetry
With intersectionality with AIDS writing.

Inspired by application of action research

And so for day 2048

Lost Locus

Could serve as an epigraphy to a set of psychogeographic instructions.

The Drop, that wrestles in the Sea —
Forgets her own locality —
Opening lines to No. 284 in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson edited by Thomas H. Johnson.

And so for day 2047


Towards the end of a poem in three mandala sections ("Tiger") there is this arresting bit of typographical ingenuity.

A few strokes and the "attempting" becomes "tempting". There are many lines to treat the cascade of words. One is the periphery of the circle: "edge / where / someone is / always / cutting loose". Another is to preserve the horizontal line by line progression while ignoring white space between the words: "someone is attempting the / always nemesis / cutting loose." The very action of striking out letters is a sort of cutting loose. And so the poem folds upon itself. Tempting attempt at reading the locus — "at". A displacement.

Michele Leggott. Swimmers, Dancers (1991).

And so for day 2046

Raise a Glass

From the obituary for poet and novelist Peter Trower in the Globe and Mail

A memorial and celebration is scheduled to be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at his old Vancouver hangout, now known as the Railway Stage and Beer Café. It will not be teetotal.
Need we say that Mr. Trower enjoyed his beer?

And so for day 2045

Craft in the Tool

Christine McFadden. The Essential Kitchen.

It's a book about tools. In which we learn more about their design and purpose. For instance, the rough texture underneath ramekins:

Porcelain ramekins These smooth, straight-sided ramekins are used for individual soufflés, as well as baked custards or crème brulées. Egg-based dishes such as these are cooked in a roasting pan filled with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. The ramekins have a slightly roughened base to prevent a vacuum from forming and making it hard to lift them from the water bath.
And this about the design of the tagine:
Tagine A tagine is a uniquely shaped, thick earthenware pot, used in North Africa for the slow-cooked dish of the same name. The pot is traditionally used on an open fire. Very little is needed as the conical lid provides a large cool surface on which steam condenses and then drips onto the food below. The tall shape also keeps the lid cool at the top, so it can be lifted without a protective cloth.
One is set to develop via McFadden an appreciation for good design.

And so for day 2044

Metaphors of Method

This is a description of cooking technique but it in its regard for the appropriate procedures and outcomes can serve as analogy to writing.

Crisp and Golden vs. Soft and Moist

Do you want ingredients — such as onions or potatoes — sautéed to a golden brown? Or do you want them soft and moist? Here are tips to remember:

1. For crisp, golden coloring, heat the fat first, then add the ingredients, but do not salt. Salt impedes browning.

2. For soft, moist cooking, heat the fat, ingredients, and salt together.
Perfect description of some writing assignments.

Simply French: Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joël Robuchon.

And so for day 2043

Like How

Wrote to my sister and my niece about a culinary accomplishment (from a family friend from St. Pierre et Miquelon, Mme Amandine Lalande, who gave the recipe to my mother who made pâté maison at Christmas time and passed on the recipe and instructions to us)

At long last I attempted my first pâté maison. Attached is a picture of the creation and a scan of the index card with the recipe in Mom's handwriting.

I no longer have a meat grinder and had to finely dice the ham by hand. A nice meditative action.

Lesson for next time : don't under salt - it affects the taste.

As you can imagine a pound of veal, a pound of pork and a half a pound of ham makes a big loaf. We froze half.
My evidence and the recipe card I worked from

Elsewhere in a post called 1846 I muse about an other piece of handwritten ephemera from my mother and note "Never undervalue the impact of the hand written note." or in this day and age a personal message that reminds oneself and others not to forget to salt adequately.

And so for day 2042

How Like

A bundle and its medicines resembles a smartphone and its collection of apps.

The comparison points to revitalization of Indigenous cultures.

The bundle's homecoming and first ceremonial opening since 1942 is being witnessed by 200 people, Blackfoot from Alberta and Montana (who call themselves Blackfeet) and a significant minority of non-natives like myself.

Some have come for physical healing. Others have come for the healing of the soul.

"These are holy bundles given to us by the Creator to hold our people together," explains tribe member Patricia Deveraux, as she waits outside the teepee, craning her neck to see what is going on inside.

"They're the same as the relics from the Catholic Church," continues the pleasant, round-faced woman of 36, whose faith straddles Catholicism and Blackfoot spirituality with equal vigour. "They are a demonstration of the holy spirit. They can heal people."

Reprinted from the Edmonton Journal 2002 by Larry Johnsrude (
The comparison also points to the indigenization of the culture-at-large.

That smartphone connects people through a sort of spirit world. Remember William Gibson's Count Zero? The loa in cyberspace? Creolization is the old indigenization.

But they are not quite the same in a linguistic context:
The contact between languages in multilingual contexts can lead to language change and the formation of new varieties of language. The term indigenization is used to refer to the contact-induced linguistic changes that result in a new dialect, while creolization refers to the emergence of a new language. […] According to Mesthrie and Bhatt (2008 : 11), indigenization ‘refers to the acculturation of the [transplanted language] to localized phenomena, be they cultural, topographic or even linguistic (in terms of local grammatical, lexical and discourse norms).’ In other words, its use in a new environment brings about changes in the transplanted language. Unlike other kinds of linguistic change, however, these changes reflect the influence of the local languages and culture. They also reflect widespread second-language learning of the transplanted language by the local population.

Jeff Siegel. "Multilingualism, Indigenization, and Creolization" in The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism: Second Edition edited by Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie.
"Linguistic indigenization occurs when a language is transplanted in a new location and learned and used by the local population." By analogy thinking of spiritual items such as medicine bundles in terms of digital technologies such as smartphones would be a form of acculturation covered by the notion of indigenization. Both have an element of ritual and appropriate use attached to them. Spirituality meets materiality. Holding people together.

And so for day 2041