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