Blurb

From the Fourth Edition of The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory.

blurb A brief description of the contents of a book printed on the dust jacket. Often couched in enthusiastic and, at times, extravagent [sic] terms. The word is believed to have been coined by the American author Gelett Burgess who defined it as 'a sound like a publisher'. Earlier the term 'puff' was used, probably after Mr Puff in Sheridan's The Critic (1779). See also PUFFERY.
And who can resist quoting the blurb on the very book that defines blurb?
Some entries accomplish cameo wonders of literary history. Others are funny … generously and urbanely compiled. THE NEW YORK TIMES
A treasure. BERNEVAL

And so for day 1996
31.05.2012

In the Forest or in the City: Watch, Attend.

Robert Macfarlane, author of The Lost Words, musing about different ways of approaching nature.

This, it seems to me, is what nature must best be to children: something "alive, powerful and sentient", rather than something that can be, in Richard Louv’s terms, "watched, consumed, ignored". The difference is akin to that between anthropomorphism and animism: in the first, we convert the more-than-human world into an image of ourselves; in the second, we lean a little into its complexity and mystery.
"Badger or Bulbasaur - have children lost touch with nature?" in The Guardian

And so for day 1995
30.05.2012

Biopolitics of the Quotidian

From the 1990s, a message about Rich, Weil and trauma writing.

Menachem,

I was rereading a preface by Adrienne Rich. The preface is collected in On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978. The preface is dated 1976 and is entitled ”Conditions for Work: The Common World of Women”. She quotes from Simone Weil:
A clear view of what is possible and what impossible, what is easy and what difficult, of the labors that separate the project from its accomplishment — this alone does away with insatiable desires and vain fears; from this and not from anything else proceed moderation and courage, virtues without which life is nothing but a disgraceful frenzy.
The passage is from Weil’s "Theoretical Picture of a Free Society" collected in Oppression and Liberty trans. by Arthur Wills and John Petrie (1973).

I am wondering if Weil and Rich might not provide a bridge back to considerations of the popular as the work of social reproduction and a way of conducting the work of memorialization without reinducing trauma. Rich suggests that “[f]or spiritual values and a creative tradition to continue unbroken we need concrete artifacts, the work of hands, written words to read, images to look at, a dialogue with brave and imaginative women who came before us.” She then cites a passage from Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition and continues to firmly situate this work in a gendered context: “Hannah Arendt does not call this ‘women’s work.’ Yet it is this activity of world-protection, world preservation, world-repair — the million tiny stitches, the friction of the scrubbing brush, the scouring cloth, the iron across the shirt, the rubbing of cloth against itself to exorcise the stain, the renewal of the scorched pot, the rusted knifeblade, the invisible weaving of a frayed and threadbare family life, the cleaning up of soil and waste left behind by men and children — that we have been charged to do 'for love,' not merely unpaid, but unacknowledged by the political philosophers. [...] Arendt tells us that the Greeks despised all labor of the body necessitated by biological needs.”

The radical American feminist critique of the 70s regarding the repression of the body in Western thought might be worth keeping in the background of your explorations of the debates over the proper relation between the popular and the Holocaust. Incidentally, Rich does in her later prose and poetry explore her Jewish roots. [See "Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity" (1982)]
Somewhere in all this quotidian work there the encounter with the impossible. Rich writes in "Split at the Root" about sometimes feeling inadequate to the task but she does not shrink:
Yet we can't wait for the undamaged to make our connections for us; we can't wait to speak until we are perfectly clear and righteous. There is no purity and, in our lifetimes, no end to this process.
We can't wait. No we can't.

And so for day 1994
29.05.2012

Border Beginnings

In an editorial ("The Geopolitics of Signs", The Semiotic Review of Books Vol. 2.3 September 1991) Milena Doleželová-Velingerová opens with the following observation:

Every culture, in order to become a culturally distinctive entity, must start by staking out the frontier of its semiotic space. The boundary may separate the dead and the living; the town and countryside; French culture and Russian culture. It could be a river, a gesture, a script, a concept of time and space, or a natural language. No matter how diverse the culture, the boundary has nevertheless one and the same function: to divide the world between "our" space, where communication is possible, and the space of the "others", where communication is not accessible.
She goes on in the editorial to summarize the work of Yuri Lotman on semiospheres and cross-border hotspots. She quotes:
The boundary is a mechanism for translating texts of an alien semiotics into "our" language, it is the place where what is "external" is transformed into what is "internal". It is a filtrating membrane which so transforms foreign texts that they become part of the semiosphere's internal semiotics while still retaining their own characteristics. (Lotman, 1990 [Universe of Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture translated by Ann Shukman]
I like how she set this up. It is obvious the borders exist not by words alone but other signs as well. As we read it is good to keep this area (of non-words but signs) in mind as the texts discussed by Yori Lotman are secondary modelling systems — a reminder that the membrane to the alien may traversed within a semiosphere hence all the scare quotes around external and internal.

And so for day 1993
28.05.2012

Placing Feeling

E-motion: don't quite know how the rhetoric of neither/nor moves me.

Affect is a different kind of intelligence about the world, but it is intelligence none-the-less, and previous attempts which have either relegated affect to the irrational or raised it up to the level of the sublime are both equally wrong-headed.
Nigel Thrift, "Intensities of Feeling: Towards a spatial politics of affect" in Geografiska Annaler, Series B, 86, 57-78.

And so for day 1992
27.05.2012

Stupidity, Humility and Pride

I first encountered this striking serigraph reproduced in black and white in the Graphex 4 catalogue of the 1976 juried exhibition at the Art Gallery of Brant (in Brantford, Ontario). I immediately recognized the parody of Matisse's Dance.

The image is the work of Vernon Chilton. It is called The Rite of Spring. Measures: 24 1/2 x 37 1/4 inches. Was purchased by the Art Gallery of Brant through a Gift from Sonoco Limited ($130.00).

The 1980 publication of the catalogue Art Gallery of Brant Permanent Collection provides some bare biographical details: Chilton was born 31/10/50 and studied at York University and Carleton University.

Chilton went through a cow period. With at least one show at the Royal Agricultural Fair. I know this thanks to the librarians at the Toronto Reference Library who have maintained vertical files on Canadian artists and they have a copy of the poster announcing the Royal show. Also in the clippings file was microfiche preserving an article from the Globe (August 23, 1975) by Bryan Johnson reviewing a show at Harbourfront under the catchy title: "The artist addicted to the bovine charms".
Chilton's favorite is The Pasture, nine-foot-wide acrylic in which a dozen cows gaze out at the viewer with the curious mixture of stupidity, humility and pride which seems to have captured artist Chilton entirely.

"The way I think of it," he says, "is that this is their group portrait. They've grown up together and soon they're going to split up for the meat market, so, you know, they figure they need a portrait to hang I the barn.["]
Chilton goes on to describe his encounters with a herd. A picture of The Pasture accompanies the article. But my favourite is still The Rite of Spring.

And so for day 1991
26.05.2012

After Glow Rash

Joseph Chadwick "Toward Gay Reading: Robert Glück's 'Reader'" in Easthope and Thompson Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory (1991) pp. 40-52.

Reading, this sentence, suggests, doesn't stop when one puts down the book; rather, it continues as long as one remains alive to the possibilities of "what everything could be" rather than becoming immured in fixed definitions of what and how things are.
Although Chadwick doesn't continue this line of thought, we have here an infection model. Or as William S. Burroughs would say: language is a virus.

And so for day 1990
25.05.2012

Don Quick Shot

I may not be the first to play on the name of the windmill-tilter nor the first to be surprised by the eruption of a good chunk of Cervantes in a 1959 printing of The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Milton (with introduction by Cleanth Brooks) published in the Modern Library College Editions series.

On the left we are in midst of Book XI of Paradise Lost; on the right Of the Memorable Quarrel Between Sancho Panza, and Don Quixote's Niece and House-Keeper; With Other Pleasant Passages.

A bit disconcerting for the student. How very intriguing for the comparatist.

And so for day 1989
24.05.2012

Error Localization

In transcribing this, I so want to introduce a spelling mistake.

But we cannot judge in the same way the charm of a person who is, like everyone else, exterior to ourselves, painted upon the horizon of our mind, and that of a person who, in consequence of an error in localisation which has been due to certain accidents but is irreparable, had lodged herself in our own body so effectively that the act of asking ourselves in retrospect whether she did not look at a woman on a particular day in the corridor of a little seaside railway train makes us feel the same anguish as would a surgeon probing for a bullet in our heart.

Proust The Sweet Cheat Gone in the translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
The image in one's mind, a simple error? How then can the obsession be corrected? Displaced by spelling?

And so for day 1988
23.05.2012

Sharpening the Knives

From a review that appeared in Books in Canada Volume 28, Number 6.

The book in question: The Medium and the Light: Reflection on Religion, Marshall McLuhan.

Surely, McLuhan's editors would grant that rhetoric, especially when allied with dialectic, does concern itself with rules of evidence. Dialectic is the art of asking questions. McLuhan's aphorisms and provocative statements function like questions. McLuhan himself says he provides probes. Pierre Babin, interviewing McLuhan, most felicitously characterizes the probes as "interpretative keys". Surely, it is also the role of editors to parse the questions and situate the probes in their historical context, lest the reader be left with a clanging bunch of keys and no lock to pick.

Without dialectic, McLuhan's grammar loses its critical edge. It does not matter if the sage of Wychwood denies the validity of dialectic. There is no doubt that McLuhan's probes functioned as questions, trenchant questions, and it is up to his editors to strop the text.
I do take to editors to task. But I do like the final image of the barber-editor sharpening the razor. Supporting the text with an adequate critical apparatus.

And so for day 1987
22.05.2012

Depth and Surface

Jean Petitot-Cocorda
Les Catastrophes de la parole. De Roman Jakobson à René Thom
Paris: Maloine, 1985.

En général, l'explication concerne de mécanismes sous-jacents, supposés êtres explicatifs, dérivables des lois générales et susceptibles d'être mathématisés. C'est-à-dire exprimés dans un formalisme génératif. La description concerne en revanche les morphologies macroscopiques observables dans leur corrélation à la langue naturelle et à la perception.
And what links explication to description? Elaboration, justification? Petitot does reference P. Delattre, "Le Problème de la justification des modèles dans le cadre du formalisme des systèmes de transformations" in P. Delattre and M. Thellier dir. Élaboration et justification des modèles (Paris: Maloine, 1979). Which book is not available in a library near me. :(

And so for day 1986
21.05.2012

To Describe Telling

I have had a longstanding interest in the relations between narration and description (and the assumption that nothing is happening while something is being described). I love this bit from John Dewey: "[…] a mountain, which to the layman [sic] is a standing symbol of permanence, is to the geologist the scene of drama of birth, growth, decay and ultimate death."

In Volume 12 (193) of the Collected Works in Part Two of Logic: The Theory of Inquiry we find a passage where we can note that Dewey begins with temporal and goes to spatial aspects. He does say that either aspect may be uppermost. His symmetrical treatment is evoked by the parallelism of his sentences.

Existential subject-matter as transformed has a temporal phase. Linguistically, this phase is expressed in narration. But all changes occur through interactions of conditions. What exists co-exists, and no change can either occur or be determined in inquiry in isolation from the connection of an existence with co-existing conditions. Hence the existential subject-matter of judgement has a spatial phase. Linguistically this is expressed in description.
I think this can be brought fruitfully into contact with the work of Lubomír Doležel on possible worlds and fictions. I have always been puzzled as to what triggers world construction especially how persons emerge from states. Dewey offers part of answer to the mysteries of generation.

And so for day 1985
20.05.2012

Category Mistake

John Berger from About Looking

Duchamp was not an iconoclast: he was a new type of curator.
Berger's 1974 observation shapes an approach to art that is useful for understanding those assemblages that are in essence collections of objects with tags.

And so for day 1984
19.05.2012

Grasp

A visual two colour note that partakes of the margins.

In blue there is a reference to Linda Hutcheon drawing upon the work of Peter Dews (likely Logics of Disintegration: Post-Structuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory) to discuss Lyotard's notion of grasping which of course is at the centre in red:
Language may not seem
to grasp the a world
but to push it away
create a distance from
which the analytic
my operate
Retained from the blue around the rim: one type of postmodern —> as prointellectual + proerotic therefore see it operating as above —> —> these two act as brakes to the grand récits [identified] by Lyotard        Spirit is grounded (space) in flesh + emancipation (time)      widened to continual struggle.

And so for day 1983
18.05.2012

Elevated in the Passive Voice

08/03/01 entry in a notebook

Jut read a passage in Apollinaire
Voici s'élever des prophètes
Comme au loin des collines bleues
Il sauront des choses précises
Comme croient savoir les savants
Et nous transporteront partout
The last line of this stanza could be (and is by some translators) rendered "And they'll transport us everywhere". My temptation is to play with the "transport".

And from anywhere we will be transported.

I.e. from anywhere we will have access to transport

This passive form in English does a fair job of translating the (reflexive pronoun + verb) form of the French. As well the Petit Robert gives for transport au sens figuré voir agitation, élan, enthousiasme, exaltation, ivresse. All apt for the rising prophets of the first line. We are less preoccupied by a destination (everywhere) and by a process or state of being (transport).

And so for day 1982
17.05.2012

Writing the Line

Steno pads sometimes get buried in the book shelf which results in an asynchronous dialogue between entries distanced in time. For example, this entry from 2001 is revisited in 2002.

13/03/01

Rumi has a line about being the moisture in an oyster that helps form a pearl. Interesting how so much of the creation of a pearl is credited to the speck of irritant that launches the process.
And the very page of the steno pad gives us a string — a red line down the page.

hippo campset
roundrumination
moisture string in the oyster
of speech
speckless
beading
the string break brokesea bulls
horsed in to play
 not a list
chambers
ruminationround
 29/03/02
Very happy with the play on words: nautilus, not a list. And the spiral image it conveys out of two columns.

And so for day 1981
16.05.2012

Nip Nip Na Poo

I have been intrigued with matrices since high school algebra. The layout of this little bit was influenced by the square form of the sticky note.

nippynipnip
napnap
napoo
Baby talk: sheer love of sound. Calming mantra.

And so for day 1980
15.05.2012

Stepping Out by Stepping In

Lew Welch, transcribed.

Step out into the Planet,
Draw a circle two feet round.

Inside the circle are 300 things
     nobody understands and,
     maybe, nobody's ever seen.

How many can you find?

Lew Welch
6/12/64
Can you hear the intonations similar to Stein's in the 1967 recording housed at PennSound https://media.sas.upenn.edu/pennsound/authors/Welch/Magic-Lantern_04-22-67/Welch-Lew_18_Step-Out-Onto-The-Planet_Magic-Lantern_Santa-Barbara_04-22-67.mp3? He did after all write a thesis on Stein.

I came across this reproduced in a catalogue from Ken Lopez Bookseller. The description:
454. WELCH, Lew. "Step out onto the Planet..." [San Francisco]: [Four Seasons], 1964. A broadside poem, 9 1/2" x 12 1/2", reproducing Welch's handwriting and design, limited to 300 copies sold on the occasion of a reading by Welch, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, longtime friends who first met when they all attended Reed College, a progressive school in Oregon, and who later became three of the most influential poets of the Beat generation. The sentiment of this poem -- a sense of the mystery and wonder of the earth, expressed in a few simple lines -- captures an essential element of the sensibility ignited by the Beats in our culture. Signed by Welch, who, although less well-known than his former classmates, was nonetheless one of the most important poets of the era. Matted; fine.
What of course attracted to me was the calligraphy and the brushwork of the circle at the top of the broadside.

It looks ripe for contemplation.

And so for day 1979
14.05.2012

Composition in Contraries

Plank versus bridge. Some thoughts.

D'après Miss Moore Going Over

To throw before some way
what is a gang plank to a
bridge? Not just the
appropriate tool at
the appropriate place.
A bridge is full of
particulate plurals.
A bridge of stone, steel
or wood, is still a
construction constitution of parts
in the memory of imagination
it is as
a single entity    the
span resides. The
plank — no matter
how much in actuality
it may be riveted
of pieces — stands alone
at an angle, like a
ramp.

30/12/02
And now years later I turn to Marianne Moore and quote some lines from "Granite and Steel". "way out; way in; romantic passageway / first seen by the eye of the mind / then by the eye. O steel! O stone!"

And so for day 1978
13.05.2012

Atoms of Discursive Formations

Someday perhaps English will adapt the term "vulgarization" to denote "popularization". *smile*

La répétition didactique, sous sa forme proprement pédagogique, ou même sous une forme plus vague de vulgarisation, est indispensable au fonctionnement de l'espace intellectuel, même si elle ne contribue pas à son avancée théorique. Par définition cette dimension n'innove pas, mais notre situation intellectuelle n'est pas compréhensible sans elle. Quant à la diffusion de l'information, la vulgarisation répercutée, les redites de la mode, le jargon des sectes, la problématique de la saison, tout cela constitue un bruit spéculatif qui appartient lui aussi à la situation intellectuelle et qui la marque.

Judith Schlanger, L'invention intellectuelle
My gloss from a while back
Speculative noise is wedded to the elaboration of intellectual space. However, jargon and fashion serve primarily not innovation but comprehension.
One wonders if Schlanger may have on the periphery of her concerns noted the title of a work by Roland Barthes: Système de la mode. They may only collide in the longer view from the 21st century.

And so for day 1977
12.05.2012

Petit Récit

From a paper comparing chaos to catastrophe theory. One being an invention of science journalism and the other a branch of mathematics. In my peroration I get quite polemical.

Reconciliation with nature, chaotic or otherwise, is the avatar of a theocratic theme and it cannot serve to legitimate either science or criticism in a postmodern age. Hayles's hostility to Lyotard now becomes understandable. He is a prime critic of meta-narratives of legitimation. And his is a secular, wholly secular, use of paradox.
She sees his work as contributing to "a cultural metanarrative, and its peculiar property is to imply incredulity not just toward other metanarratives but toward narrative as a form of representation. It thus implies its own deconstruction." (Chaos bound: orderly disorder in contemporary literature and science (Cornell University Press, 1990)

But didn't Lyotard advocate for localized narratives?

Furthermore, there's a distinction to be made between the skeptical and the cynical. Not all challenges are to be read as reductio ad absurdum deconstructions.

And so for day 1976
11.05.2012

Premises and Premises

Within a few paces, one straddles the erotic, the synesthetic and the memento mori.

Because an opulent tongue contours my hip
bone

Because the music arrived in ochres, greens,
yellows

Because I wanted the music to articulate me

Because lacking ardour, the surroundings were
impoverished

Because I am pronoun in disguise as sediment
Oana Avasilichioaei Limbinal

The anaphoric piling on of "because" clauses never culminates in a complete sentence. All is arrested. Be cause. Have effect.

And so for day 1975
10.05.2012

The Curled Kitten

Warm is a Circle
Written and Illustrated by Hilary Thompson
Hantsport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1979

It was the title that attracted me to this book, I thought it had something to do with synesthesia. What I discovered is true artistic accomplishment. The words are not grand but they are not simple repetitions one expects in children's books. They can appeal to readers of any age — they provoke the imagination. And the pictures are in shades of gray and sometimes they offer stark contrasts of black and white. They always invite the viewer to look again.

I like how over the last two sections one is immersed in a nocturnal wandering followed by an awakening.

When it is dark I rest.
Dark, where the walls make patterns.

And when I wake I see
my window.
Light is a square in the wall.
A window is a place.
It is full of other places.
Such a rich invitation to the play of the imagination from the very start at the title page…

The copy I viewed came to me all the way from the University of Calgary. Sad to see it leave my hands but happy that I have a scan of that curled kitten to remind me that warm is circle.

And so for day 1974
09.05.2012

Dépayser

Modes of Being Out of the World

Sara Guyer Reading with John Clare: Biopoetics, Sovereignty, Romanticism explores the poetics of homelessness. It takes on an existential character. For example, about the poem "I am" she references Bridget Keegan

Bridget Keegan reads the end of this poem as aiming for the possibility of experiencing the "world without us" in "The World Without Us: Romanticism, Environmentalism, and Imagining Nature," in A Companion to Romantic Poetry ed . Charles Mahoney (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 554-68.
I juxtapose this with a performance by The Four Horseman [bp Nichol, Steve McCaffery, Paul Dutton, and Rafael Barreto-Rivera.] who use lines from this Clare poem in counterpoint to a Spanish/English line ("My shoes are dead, oh microphone"). A recording of the Four Horseman is on the Canadada album, digitally available from the Penn Sound archive, see Matthew's Line.

Stephen Scobie in relating the The Four Horseman performance situates the poem as less about imagining a world without humans [Keegan] and more as a sad poem about isolation (it's author being confined to an asylum). He interprets as he quotes in bpNicol: What History Teaches:
The poem speaks pathetically of Clare's sense of despair, abandonment, and isolation, both within the physical asylum and within his increasing insanity:
I am: yet what I am none cares or knows
   My friends forsake me like a memory lost,
I am the self-consumer of my woes
The poem then moves to Clare's longing for escape, even if only through death:
I long for scenes, where man hath never trod
   A place where woman never smiled or wept —
There to abide with my Creator, God,
   And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling, and untroubled where I lie,
The grass below — above the vaulted sky.
Out of context, the poem is a fine example of the Romantic desire for transcendence into a pantheistic unity of Nature; in the context of Clare's life, it points to the fineness of the dividing line between extreme Romantic sensitivity, the solitary genius of the poet and clinical insanity.
Here I turn again to Sara Guyer who like The Four Horseman in a sense makes John Clare strange. This she does in part by resisting the mad poet reading and insisting on the dash ("'untroubled,' unmoved, stable, blank, or flat like a dash, despite the catastrophe everywhere around him"). She also in her concluding chapter juxtaposes the poetry of Clare with the condition of abandoned houses in Detroit. A picture of one graces the cover the book.

What a clear way of bringing the poet back in the world and avoiding transcendence.

And so for day 1973
08.05.2012

More Making Making More

Julia Child on crème anglaise

This is the basic custard sauce that you want to have in your repertoire, to transform any plain pastry or poached or fresh fruit into a special dessert. Crème anglaise is an essential component of such classics as floating island, and the foundation of many other dessert preparations — when frozen, it becomes ice cream; if you add gelatin and fold in whipped cream, it becomes Bavarian cream. If flour is added before cooking, you have pastry cream, and then if you fold in beaten egg whites you have a dessert soufflé.

Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. Julia Child and Jacques Pépin
Nella Cotrupi on Frye and Bakhtin
It has been easy for some to misconstrue Frye's references to 'the total form of art' or the 'total body of human culture' as representing a closed, monolithic entity or unity. Such a view would be quite antithetical to Frye's process approach to poetics and to its philosophical footing, the verum factum principle. This view emphasizes nothing if not the infinite scope or creative potential of human imagination to conjure and contrive. In a sense, this brings Frye close to Mikhail Bakhtin, who, in his preoccupation with the relationship between the mind and the world, opted much more for 'the Kantian heterogeneity of ends' rather than the 'Neo-Kantian lust for unity' (Michael Holquist, Art and Answerability xv). In Bakhtin, where the emphasis is on 'perception as an act of authoring' (xv), on distinctly senses the kind of Vichian reverberations that are explicitly evoked in such comments of Frye's as 'reality is in the world we make and not in the world we stare at' (MM 122) and 'what is true we have made true' (WP 135).

Northrop Frye and the Poetics of Process. Caterina Nella Cotrupi

MM = Myth and Metaphor
WP = Words with Power
Making more more…

And so for day 1972
07.05.2012

Greek Sleep

A charming passage on the effect of soporifics on the ability to quote Greek… one almost falls asleep trying to keep track of who is quoting who.

I have always said — and have proved by experiment — that the most powerful soporific is sleep itself. After having slept profoundly for two hours, having fought against so many giants, and formed so many lifelong friendships, it is far more difficult to awake than after taking several grammes of veronal. And so reasoning from one thing to the other, I was surprised to hear from the Norwegian philosopher, who had it from M. Boutroux, "my eminent colleague — pardon me, my brother," what M. Bergson thought of the peculiar effects upon the memory of soporific drugs. "Naturally," M. Bergson had said to M. Boutroux, if one was to believe the Norwegian philosopher, "soporifics, taken from time to time in moderate doses, have no effect upon the solid memory of our everyday life which is so firmly established within us. But there are other forms of memory, loftier, but also more unstable. One of my colleagues lectures upon ancient history. He tells me that if, overnight, he has taken a tablet to make him sleep, he has great difficulty, during his lecture, in recalling the Greek quotations that he requires. The doctor who recommended these tablets assured him that they had no effect upon the memory. 'that is perhaps because you do not have to quote Greek,' the historian answered, not without a note of pride."

I cannot say whether this conversation between M. Bergson and M. Boutroux is accurately reported. The Norwegian philosopher, albeit so profound and so lucid, so passionately attentive, may have misunderstood.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain in the translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.

And so for day 1971
06.05.2012

Let Us Compare Ecstasies

With apologies to Leonard Cohen (Let Us Compare Mythologies)

Body and mind — words and things.

Les extases de Nane Yelle, dans l'histoire de sa passion pour un chamane de l'enchâssement vertigineux du réel, ces extases mentales ne sont rien à côté des désirs dont le halètement de feu dans tous mon corps me ravit au gré de mes investissements libidinaux sur le timbre de voix, le grain de la peau, l'œil bleu de noir, le corps variable de mes jeunes amants qui, tous, s'allègent dans le sommeil au point que l'extase matérielle se diffuse en réverbérations heureuses dans le continuum de l'amour fou des mots et des choses.
Yolande Villemaire La Vie en prose (Montreal: Les Herbes Rouges, 1980)

And so for day 1970
05.05.2012

Let the Fossil Record Show

Le français au bureau Cahiers de l'Office de la langue française No 26 [1977]

A teletype machine, a mimeograph machine, a photocopier.

Extinct or vanishing.

And so for day 1969
04.05.2012

Liminal Ball Tossing

Oana Avasilichioaei
Limbinal

As suiting a book about margins and perimeters, the book begins with a poem called "Bound" which itself begins with an apostrophe to "Border" which I misread as beginning "Border, you tenderly."

Border, you terrify. Border, you must dictate your own dismantling or we will perish. Purge. Border, are you listening? Are you empire?
Just why I remember the opening line as tender is perhaps attributable to the erotic charge of some of the stanzas and perhaps also related to the figure of the child in conjunction with the sonorities and semantics of sound's traveling: "We wanted to theorize the voice, give it credence in the angle of an article." [Here I detect traces of Nicole Brossard in the wish to theorize and of Gertrude Stein in the emphasis on the little word or article — it may just be me and the borders I have visited.]

"And the child grasps the wall of sound can and will become language."

And so for day 1968
03.05.2012

Temporal Transports of a Different Sort

If there were not language there would only be music.

And, just as certain creatures are the last surviving testimony to a form of life which nature has discarded, I asked myself if music were not the unique example of what might have been — if there had not come the invention of language, the formation of words, the analysis of ideas — the means of communication between one spirit and another.
Marcel Proust, The Captive in the translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.

Reminded of Steven Mithen, The Singing Neanderthals: the Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body (Harvard University Press, 2006)?

And so for day 1967
02.05.2012

Spreading the Sensuality

This opening brings to mind the need for expanded food security and food literacy so that more can enjoy the pleasures rehearsed here.

For countless Americans living on their own, cooking for one is a fact of daily living. Far from dreading it, many people find it to be a satisfying, fun, rewarding activity — not just a chore. It's a way to get back in touch with a familiar rhythm of daily living. The pleasure of seeking out the best ingredients, preparing them to their own preferences, experimenting with new flavors and ingredients, and the sensory pleasures of cooking — the feel of chopping something, the sound of foods sizzling in a wok, the aroma of a simmering soup — are as important to their sense of well-being as daily exercise is.
Mark Erickson and Lisa Erickson Cooking for One.

And so for day 1966
01.05.2012