wood s lot   february 16 - 29, 2008

Japanese photography
Bakumatsu-Meiji Period

W.R. MacAskill
Nova Scotia photographer
1887 - 1956


Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.

A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.

Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.

Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter's robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.

Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics dies,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
   -  Dylan Thomas 


Of Useless Books
attributed to the Haintz-Nar-Meister
Sebastian Brant's Stultifera Navis, The Ship of Fools

Richard Hoffman
Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it; weep over them, you will also regret that.
   Kierkegaard, Diapsalmata: Either/Or, An Ecstatic Lecture

We ferried our sullen sirens to the rocks and
handed them the music we composed so long ago
(of crooners’ modulated vowels sustained vibrato
and jingles for soap and beer that came to occupy
our parents’ minds) we had, already, forgotten.
We set the time when they would shed their ever
filthier silence, wired, a lyric bomb, and sing.
It wasn’t magic. Even our amnesia was strategic.


Afghanistan: The Brutal and Unnecessary War the Media Aren't Telling You About
Joshua Holland

They say journalists provide the first draft of history. With the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, that draft led to an almost universal consensus, at least among Americans, that the attack was a justifiable act of self-defense. The Afghanistan action is commonly viewed as a "clean" conflict as well -- a war prosecuted with minimal loss of life, and one that didn't bring the kind of international opprobrium onto the United States that the invasion of Iraq would lead to a year later.

Those views are also held by many Americans who are critical of the excesses of the Bush administration's "War on Terror." But there's a disconnect there. Everything that followed -- secret detentions, torture, the invasion of Iraq, the assault on domestic dissent -- flowed inevitably from the failure to challenge Bush's claim that an act of terror required a military response. The United States has a rich history of abandoning its purported liberal values during times of war, and it was our acceptance of Bush's war narrative that led to the abuses that have shattered America's moral standing before the world.

In his book, The Guantánamo Files, historian and journalist Andy Worthington offers a much-needed corrective to the draft of the Afghanistan conflict that most Americans saw on their nightly newscasts. Worthington is the first to detail the histories of all 774 prisoners who have passed through the Bush administration's "legal black hole" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But his history starts in Afghanistan, and makes it abundantly clear that the road to Guantánamo -- not to mention Abu Ghraib -- began in places like Kandahar.


The World's Most Wanted
Noam Chomsky

The more vulgar apologists for U.S. and Israeli crimes solemnly explain that, while Arabs purposely kill people, the U.S. and Israel, being democratic societies, do not intend to do so. Their killings are just accidental ones, hence not at the level of moral depravity of their adversaries. (...)

...we can distinguish three categories of crimes: murder with intent, accidental killing, and murder with foreknowledge but without specific intent. (...)

If, for a moment, we can adopt the perspective of the world, we might ask which criminals are "wanted the world over."


Into the Valley of Catastrophe
Barbarians At the Gates
Crusade of Surge and Siege, Part Four
Manuel Valenzuela


William Degouve de Nuncques
28 February 1867 - 1 March 1935

image from
Impressionism to Symbolism: The Belgian Avant-Garde 1880-1900,

edited by MaryAnne Stevens and Robert Hoozee
scanned by mr aitch


mis / Translation
How much of our cognitive faculty is not infused with some kind of mistranslation?

A special feature in the latest Drunken Boat
Winter 2007-2008


The War in My Head
Ron Padgett

It’s not possible
to see two different things
at the same time
I can’t see this poem
and the war in Iraq
clearly at the same time.
But I can see this poem
and feel like throwing my house
across the yard
at the same time,
and I can see Iraq and feel
that this poem
is not going to help
do anything
except get me out
to where the firs are
and a lot taller
than anything
I can think.

Ron Padgett - Poems
drunken boat

John Fahey
February 28, 1939 - February 22, 2001
photo - Paul Kelly
found here

In Memory of Blind Thomas of Old Takoma
Eddie Dean

I Remember Blind Joe Death
Otis Wheeler

Fahey videos

Fahey Interview
with some great photos


Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization
A White Paper
Oya Y. Rieger

The paper describes four large-scale projects—Google Book Search, Microsoft Live Search Books, Open Content Alliance, and the Million Book Project—and their digitization strategies. It then discusses a range of issues affecting the stewardship of the digital collections they create: selection, quality in content creation, technical infrastructure, and organizational infrastructure. The paper also attempts to foresee the likely impacts of large-scale digitization on book collections.

via The Ten Thousand Year Blog


Ferguson's Cove
W.R. MacAskill

The Old Bridge At Fountains Abbey
photograph by Dr. Holden
Early Photographically Illustrated Books


Approaching the Library
Veronica Forrest-Thomson

You never would have believed it could be so easy;
it played into one’s hands, the unpremeditated paysage,
as Stevens said, crossing the fen, suddenly confronted
with such expanse of unpretentious waters as visit
our dreams. Elle resta, comme le dit Flaubert,
melancholique devant son rêve accompli.

Poetic diction performed for me two outstanding services:
in confirming that the subject I proposed treating
was a worthy one; and in feeding and clothing me
after I had, in a moment of abstraction, fallen
into Holme Fen Engine Ditch;

It partakes of the clay’s history of human blood
and strife, like Devil’s Dyke, our excursion to which
is hereby premeditated. Thus we are rescued from
the abstract ditch we dig with our fundamental
disagreement about the proper form for a picnic.

It is disturbing to find oneself on a level
with the river, smooth-flowing with pronouns
where we grub, like ducks, for whatever they eat,
in unexpected pools. A drastic diminution
of pronouns in the early weeks of marriage
(lack of third persons, not to mention more banal examples)
leads to this retracted meadow in which comparisons
must be deployed, the meadow she crosses now,
noting its blossoming synecdoches, on her way
to the library, carrying her Heffers Cantab Students
Notebook, ref. 140, punched for filing

Five Poems
Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Feature: Veronica Forrest-Thomson, 1947–1975

Veronica Forrest-Thomson and High Artifice
Brian Kim Stefans
One of the misfortunes of the lack of attention being paid to English poetry of this century is the obscurity of Veronica Forrest-Thomson, a poet who died in 1975 at the age of 27. Forrest-Thomson is the author of Poetic Artifice, a book that outlined a theory of poetry from a critical perspective — i.e. a tool to determine the success or failure of a poem rather then merely a vocabulary for describing the phenomenon of a "poem" — but one which, rather than confirming or resisting a "tradition," concentrated on those elements of the poem that resist quick interpretation or, in her terms, "naturalization" by the reader or critic.

Though Poetic Artifice adheres to the conventions of a text that can be re-used by members of the academy, there are moments when Forrest-Thomson’s skill as an experimental poet, along with her occasional wit, lift the writing and theory itself beyond the level of disinterested speculation, engaging the reader — should the reader be a poet — in what is serious shop-talk.

Collected Poems and Translations
Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Simplicity can only be got through complexity of technique as it is only by ‘‘thickening” the imaginative webs of formal pattern that poetry can criticise or present imaginative alternatives to the world of everyday language. Criticism’s first duty is to follow and stress the complexities and only after this is done to say, if necessary, genius is simplicity.
  -  Veronica Forrest-Thomson, A letter to G.S. Fraser

The Amazing Staircase
Apartment Therapy

via Classical Bookworm


Stacy Oborn's the space in between returns.


"Where Constant Experiments Have Been Provided"
A Conversation with Bruno Latour
Arch Journal
Issue #1, Winter 2008


The New Conquistadors
Canada in Afghanistan
David Orchard

The Harper government is seeking to prolong Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. So far, Canada has spent six years, billions of dollars, 78 young lives (many more wounded) and inflicted unknown casualties on that country.

The terms used to describe our occupation and ongoing war are remarkably similar to those used over a century ago by colonial powers to justify their ruthless wars of colonization. Then, it was the white man's burden to "civilize" the non-whites of the Americas, Africa and Asia. As cub scouts we were taught Kipling's unforgettable prose about the "lesser breeds," but nothing about the real people who paid horrendous costs in death, suffering, destruction and theft of their land and resources.

Today, we are involved in a "mission" in Afghanistan to "improve" the lives of women and children, to install "democracy," to root out corruption and the drug trade. (...)

The toll of dead, wounded and displaced for Afghanistan is not being published.(...)

The deadly effects of radioactive, depleted uranium (DU) ammunition being inflicted on both countries (some originally from Saskatchewan) haven't begun to be tabulated or understood, let alone reported back to us. The idea that bombing the population will improve the lives of women and children could only come from those who have never experienced war.

As for narcotics, in 2001, when the West's attack on Afghanistan began, its opium trade was approaching eradication. Today, Afghanistan produces over 90% of the world's heroin and the U.S. is proposing mass aerial spraying of pesticides.


The Hospital-Train
Gino Severini


The Calm Before the Conflagration
Chris Hedges

The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq - the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.

The Myth of the Surge
Nir Rosen

Now, in the midst of the surge, the Bush administration has done an about-face. Having lost the civil war, many Sunnis were suddenly desperate to switch sides — and Gen. David Petraeus was eager to oblige. The U.S. has not only added 30,000 more troops in Iraq — it has essentially bribed the opposition, arming the very Sunni militants who only months ago were waging deadly assaults on American forces. To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military has created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq's central government. The Americans call the units by a variety of euphemisms: Iraqi Security Volunteers (ISVs), neighborhood watch groups, Concerned Local Citizens, Critical Infrastructure Security. The militias prefer a simpler and more dramatic name: They call themselves Sahwa, or "the Awakening."

America's Ghost Story
James Carroll

Military power, that is, functions in America the way state religion has functioned in other societies. The Pentagon is the temple of this religion. It has dogmas, rituals, high priesthood, saints, cults of sacrifice, sacred language and a justifying narrative - what theologians call "salvation history."(...)

When politicians invoke the rote formulae of martial rhetoric, banging the drum of dire prediction, and promising best protection, they are only fulfilling the requirements of set rubrics, which produce in the electorate not the anxiety one would expect, but enchantment - the enchantment of the pew. Preachers warn of hellfire to offer rescue from it, which is available to those who submit. This feedback loop of damnation-salvation-submission serves the people by offering meaning, and it serves the elite by protecting the structure of power. In religion, all of this is overt. In presidential politics, it is implicit.


Inside the Fires of Imperialism
Crusade of Surge and Siege, Part Three
Through Middle East Eyes
Manuel Valenzuela


Marian Anderson
27 Feb. 1897 - 8 Apr. 1993
Lincoln Memorial Concert, April 9, 1939


from Elephant & Obelisk
Tony Tost

Where faith is lacking there is a sentence
against the boundary's chest            
                                          it is clear
disappearing within its own bliss
                                                seduction's violence
desires a forest, an infant, a war
a dawn for each work of creation to suffer
I have developed methods
                                       displaying my nearest
thoughts for the transcendence of their repulsiveness
to read my lives more quickly each appears
to believe me & perform its roar
a real life can endure even more
not a foundry though foundries are contained within
emotional atmospheres color the given
I work through my boredom with a tremble
an immediate connection to the spectacle


Draft 85: Hard Copy
Rachel Blau DuPlessis


17 May 1986.
Or whenever "now" is.
Enough to look at here
For the rest of a lifetime.

Even the simplest things,
Their provenance—
a shoe, a prosthetic
post-war leg
reminding you of
silent doubles
unfinished, imperfect,
imperfect, shadowy.

Slowly the particulars
get scattered to the wind

and one is left
with what is under the surface
trying to come to light
what has not yet
been found nor
been found

"For histrionic or fanatical stress on the mysterious side of the mysterious takes us no further; we penetrate the mystery only to the degree that we recognize it in the everyday world, by virtue of a dialectical optic that perceives the everyday as impenetrable, the impenetrable as everyday."

Reading at the Kelly Writers House, February 5, 2008
portions of this event were recorded on video
Rachel Blau DuPlessis


Trumpeter Swan
late afternoon
Narrows Lock


Corrupt systems thrive (and count on) high noise to signal ratios—disinformation, glut, chatter, “anything to keep the populace distract’d, minds off the problems of the day.” What I fear—brought out by considering With + Stand’s first issue, in some ways an applaudable first—is that we ironists, chatterers, media hounds, collectors of civic debris and popular curios, we norteamericano poets of the relentless ever-burgeoning imperium—that we do no more than add noise into an already noise-stopped-up system.
  - John Latta, reviewing With + Stand

"Canonizing" and "talking" magazines
Alternative publishing in the Turkish context
Süreyyya Evren

The market mentality in the cultural sphere creates such an economy of power and speed that magazines might be thought to be the most negligible elements of what's going on. It is not the cosmos that matters, it is the stars: cash desks, platforms, best-seller lists, ceremonies, mega-events, billboards, advertisements – the media glitz that also casts its light on culture and envelopes everything in its protective aura. This is naturally a mechanism that can bypass the varied universes of magazines to sell values without having to create them first. It is the force that puts excessive agendas on the market with its rashness and its tumultuous style. Consequently, it is getting more and more difficult to hear the rhythm of the world of magazines, which are meanwhile themselves having trouble making out the sound of their own voices.

Nevertheless, various mentalities in a cultural environment can still be found, with all their intensities and diversities, especially in magazines.


Yuriy Ribchinskiy Yuriy Ribchinskiy, Retrospect


The Thorn
Raúl Anguiano


Energy and Equity
Ivan Illich

It has recently become fashionable to insist on an impending energy crisis. This euphemistic term conceals a contradiction and consecrates an illusion. It masks the contradiction implicit in the joint pursuit of equity and industrial growth. It safeguards the illusion that machine power can indefinitely take the place of manpower. To resolve this contradiction and dispel this illusion, it is urgent to clarify the reality that the language of crisis obscures: high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu.

The advocates of an energy crisis believe in and continue to propagate a peculiar vision of man. According to this notion, man is born into perpetual dependence on slaves which he must painfully learn to master. If he does not employ prisoners, then he needs machines to do most of his work. According to this doctrine, the well-being of a society can be measured by the number of years its members have gone to school and by the number of energy slaves they have thereby learned to command. This belief is common to the conflicting economic ideologies now in vogue. It is threatened by the obvious inequity, harriedness, and impotence that appear everywhere once the voracious hordes of energy slaves outnumber people by a certain proportion. The energy crisis focuses concern on the scarcity of fodder for these slaves. I prefer to ask whether free men need them.

The energy policies adopted during the current decade will determine the range and character of social relationships a society will be able to enjoy by the year 2000. A low-energy policy allows for a wide choice of life-styles and cultures. If, on the other hand, a society opts for high energy consumption, its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labeled capitalist or socialist.

via Feral Scholar


The Horror of Disconnection: The Auratic in Technological Malfunction
Martin Dixon

... when the line goes down we are returned to the hinc et nunc of our physical circumstances without the phatic niceties (“thanks for calling, see you soon”) that not only provide formal closure and break our communicative contract but prepare us for the psychic shock of being alone once more. But, as all who use this technology will know, in the event of disconnection, as the signal strength dies and the state of full, pristine connectivity bleeds into a rebarbative silence, a transitional sonic disfiguration occurs: the voice of the interlocutor suffers violent torsions, a garbled – oddly aquatic – strangulation. What happens here?

Easington Colliery
County Durham
John Davies


Peter Culley interview at Rob Mclennan's ongoing 10 or 20 questions


Shaman Drum looks to become nonprofit

"I don't think the book business in this country, as a business model, has worked for anybody. ... Ann Arbor is a wonderful book community, and so this is a good place to play with that, to experiment with new (business) models." - Shaman Drum owner Karl Pohrt.

“Politicizing Art”:
Benjamin’s Redemptive Critique of Technology in the Age of Fascism
Amresh Sinha

Benjamin’s essay on photography ends on a somber but beautiful note by being more concerned with the future of its authenticity and legibility, with a certain illiteracy of not knowing how to interpret the language of photography. But like the Atget photographs that reminded Benjamin of scenes of crime, photography deserts its own place and settles into the inscriptional, the captional. [2] In short, Benjamin is eager to demonstrate the redemptive power of photography as something that “should be free to stake a claim for ephemeral things, those that have a right ‘to a place in the archives of memory,’” and here his theory bears a marked resemblance to Kracauer’s overall theory of photography and film, who will pen the following in the “Preface” to his book, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality:
My book … rests upon the assumption that film is essentially an extension of photography and therefore shares with this medium a marked affinity for the visible world around us. Films come into their own when they record and reveal physical reality…. And since any medium is partial to the things it is uniquely equipped to render, the cinema is conceivably animated by a desire to picture transient material life, life at its most ephemeral. (ix, emphasis mine)
The idea of redemption therefore lies in the hope to hold on “to the small skip or crack in the continuous catastrophe” (Benjamin, cited in Habermas 38). The auratic, the mythical, and the distant vision of the world are already so remote from us that we stare at them as they stare back at us vacantly. For all purposes the magic is lost. Looking into these eyes only proves the point that there is hardly anything to look for in them. With modernity, each one of us, in the cities, is weary of eye contact.
Transformations Issue No. 15
Walter Benjamin and the Virtual: Politics, Art, and Mediation in the Age of Global Culture


Paul Raphaelson


From the translator's introduction:

A book, even a fragmentary one, has a center which attracts it. This center if not fixed, but is displaced by the pressure of the book and circumstances of its composition. Yet it is also a fixed center which, if it is genuine, displaces itself, while remaining the same and becoming always more central, more hidden, more uncertain and more imperious. He who writes the book writes it out of desire for this center and out of ignorance. The feeling of having touched it can very well be only the illusion of having reached it. When the book in question is one whose purpose is to elucidate, there is a kind of methodological good faith in stating toward what point it seems to be directed: here, toward the pages entitled "Orpheus' Gaze."

The Space of Literature
Maurice Blanchot
Translated, with an Introduction, by Ann Smock
Writing begins with Orpheus's gaze. And this gaze is the movement of desire that shatters the song's destiny, that disrupts concern for it, and in this inspired and careless decision reaches the origin, consecrates the song. But in order to descend toward this instant, Orpheus has to possess the power of art already. This is to say: one writes only if one reaches that instant which nevertheless one can only approach in the space opened by the movement of writing. To write, one has to write already. In this contradiction are situated the essence of writing, the snag in the experience, and inspiration's leap.
download here


Common Ground
Lebbeus Woods

Like the daily lives they portray, they slip unnoticed past our consciousness and beyond the reach of memory. During the next street-digging project, the sidewalks will be broken up and carted in unrecognizable chunks to a landfill, even as new sidewalks are being laid down.

Without the stories, the sidewalks fall prey to gratuitous aestheticizing. They are visually very seductive, if we are not bound by classical standards of beauty. The layering, the diversity, the clashes and unexpected harmonies of textures, colors, tones, lines, dribbles and dots, cracks and joints. They combine to form a vast mini-terrain that is almost entirely of human invention, but not intention. Fusing accident and design, they form a visual field that is unique in part and whole, and inimitable. It can never be repeated or reproduced. Yet sidewalks can awaken the imagination of the visual artist who is easily intoxicated by a depth of possibility that seems, in its contradictions, inexhaustible. Just like the city, at once timeless and ephemeral, monumental and immemorial, they are close—very close—to the heart of things.


From "Mozart's Third Brain"
Göran Sonnevi
Translated from the Swedish by Rika Lesser


Dance is born out of the deepest interior of our bodies    As if the light there
were streaming out, out of each body part's smallest movement
We hear gasping breaths    We behold mouths open in trance
Out of them light also issues, in the whirling darkness

The stone falls through millennia    The clear water's darkness
deeper and deeper    But the vanishing is only apparent    The
construction of enormity grows and grows    In its transparency

Pain's nadir, deeper and deeper    At its zenith
Identification with pain, annihilation of pain, is impossible
And yet it's there    Like the entrance into darkness
May I touch your darkness? I would so like to

Forms of power move in the invisible    Even
the anti-empire has power, I understand    Together
we have the power to sublate power, I im-
agined once    Even if only within ourselves
But there is no way to place oneself outside    Night has no limit
It is toward infinity I want to go    Unimaginably

What takes place in this thinking substance? The play of the mind's
faculties, the dance, across the inner, shimmering surfaces
For me there was no limit    For me there is no
limit, except at the instant of snapping, even were it
endlessly stretched    We will meet in the silence, after the dance

What does the voice communicate? As if I never knew
in advance    It comes with all its potentials
Invisible    Out of its fold, foldings, a face peers
as if it were Harlequin-Mozart    The great darkness of the eyes! Also
their smile    Quick, friendly    We can be like that too
My vision is now given to the Eye-Brain    Yours, you who
look at me, out of your femininity, half turned away, almost with
your back to me    So that we will not burn up? I hear
your voice    It exists in the vast play of the voices, their light

What kind of movement up from death?    Is such a thing possible at all?
A flame rises from the ashes, dances, offers itself, its body
in its moments of stillness, a prayer    Coiling into itself
Unwinding again    Returning to the ruins of silence

Typo 7: Swedish Invasion

A Child Is Not a Knife: Selected Poems of Göran Sonnevi


Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe: Representation and the Loss of the Subject
(Perspectives in Continental Philosophy)
by John Martis


Morning in the Village After Snowstorm
Kasimir Malevich
1878 - 1935


by Steve McCaffery

                           To write is to kill, that's all

essorer, autoriser, liquéfier, cancaner,
the burning ice which was of course
the body between paradox
inside a tent of skin
unwrapping organs with two eyes
they call (our) planets in orbit around
lost saturday's rotisseries
and we'll all be graduate students forever
in phonetic manners metaclosure
remembering parks forget
their golf course mandates in penumbra
the homeless
settle in as antimatter at the same time
a labyrinth of flint hits syntax
as a throat tongue and six teeth form
a hebrew letter meaning aids
intellect and capital in drag

Akademy model
St. Petersburg
Andrew Moore

A Conversation with Andrew Moore
Jörg Colberg

My sense is that our perception of the world, as influenced by the rapid evolution of information technology, directs us away from history and the past. It's as though we view reality through a speeding car: the future, which is rushing toward us, appears immediate and vivid, while the past, which can only be viewed through the mirror, falls away into blurriness and quickly vanishes. I believe that if artists are engaged with the past, in whatever manner they choose, it can facilitate the ability to see a continuum between previous forms and the yet evolving contemporary ones. And if the dilemma of the cliché ultimately turns on the act of perception, then anything that helps the artist to see his/her subject in the state of "becoming" (and once formalized, permits the viewer to "re-perceive" this subject) is indeed a valuable tool.
Russia: Beyond Utopia
by Boris Fishman (Foreword), Andrew Moore (Photographer)
reviewed by Jörg Colberg

Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory
Randall Collins

Chapter 1

Not violent individuals, but violent situations—this is what a micro-sociological theory is about. We seek the contours of situations, which shape the emotions and acts of the individuals who step inside them. It is a false lead to look for types of violent individuals, constant across situations. A huge amount of research has not yielded very strong results here.
Violence, Up Close and Personal
A sociologist challenges prevailing theories of when, and why, people lash out
Christopher Shea
You talk about panic firing during military combat, and firing among troops. And in an analogy you draw, you also find a lot of panicked firing and incompetent shooting among gang members, and only a few people taking part. We've got sort of a sieve that goes down by two levels. The first level is whether people are actually engaged in the violence, whether it's shooting guns or throwing punches. Then there's the second level of how competent they are at it: whether they actually hit what they intended, whether they hit anything. … That's true in the case of cops and robbers — both sides — as well as in the Army. U.S. forces have been trained to try to overcome this nonfiring problem [by doing] a huge amount of firing, and so it's not too surprising that in that situation bystanders get hit. Many cases of police violence that look like serious atrocities — Like Rodney King. Yes, Rodney King, or the Amadou Diallo case — they look so shocking because the violence seems like a huge overkill. But I think the mechanism that's operative there isn't so much that they are motivated to try and severely hurt or humiliate this person, but rather that they are caught up in this pattern I call "forward panic" — similar to the panic of running away, except it's a panic running forward, or shooting at your enemy.

Green trucks white nights
Andrew Moore


Radical Machines Against Techno-Empire
Matteo Pasquinelli
Translated by Arianna Bove

The general intellect is the patriarch of a family of concepts that are more numerous and cover a wide range of issues: the knowledge economy, cognitive capitalism, collective intelligence, creative class, knowledge sharing and Postfordism. In the last few years the related tools that have enriched the political lexicon were circulated amongst ourselves and left us wondering about their exact usefulness. For the sake of simplicity, we only accounted for the terms that inherited an Enlightenment, angelic and almost neo-gnostic approach. But reality is much more complex and we wait for new forms to claim for themselves the role that within the same field is due to desire, body, aesthetics, biopolitics.(...)

Don’t hate the machine, be the machine. How can we turn the sharing of knowledge, tools and spaces into new radical revolutionary productive machines, beyond the inflated free software? This is the challenge that once upon the time was called re-appropriation of the means of production.

Will the global radical class manage to invent social machines that can challenge capital and function as planes of autonomy and autopoiesis? Radical machines that are able to face the techno-managerial intelligence and imperial meta-machines lined up all around us? The match multitude vs empire becomes the match radical machines vs imperial techno-monsters. How do we start building these machines?


Overcoming Emancipation
Gopal Balakrishnan reviews Martin Beck Matuštík's Jürgen Habermas: a Philosophical-Political Profile

The shell game of principles versus values defines the parameters of the only debate that the later Habermas considers worthwhile. Conversations with Rawls and Rorty—‘the heirs of Jefferson’—boil down to justifying the writ of liberal democracy in different idioms. Acknowledgment that ‘the idea of a just and peaceful cosmopolitan order lacks any historical and philosophical support’ does not deter Habermas from concluding that there is no alternative to striving for its realization, even if its military expressions, for all their good will, so far leave something to be desired. The suspicion that such wishful thinking might preclude historical and philosophical comprehension of the real world has been successfully kept at bay. Habermas recently wrote of Herbert Marcuse that he believed he had to introduce a vocabulary that could only open eyes clouded to realities that had grown invisible ‘by bathing apparently unfamiliar phenomena in a harsh counterlight’. But reconstructing this forgotten language, and learning how to speak it, is the sole vocation of a theory that is genuinely critical.

The A to Z of Literary Translation: D to F
Georgia de Chamberet

The A to Z of Literary Translation: A to C
Georgia de Chamberet


Andrew Moore


Gothic Capitalism
The Horror of Accumulation and the Commodification of Humanity
Eugene Plawiuk


Political Theology [PDF]
Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty
Carl Schmitt
transrgted by George Schwab

Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.

Only this definition can do justice to a borderline concept. Contrary to the imprecise terminology that is found in popular literature, a borderline concept is not a vague concept, but one pertaining to the outermost sphere. This definition of sovereignty must therefore be associated with a borderline case and not with routine. It will soon become clear that the exception is to be understood to refer to a general concept in the theory of the state, and not merely to a construct applied to any emergency decree or state of siege.

download available here

Legality and Legitimacy
Carl Schmitt
Trans. Jeffrey Seitzer

Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks
January 22, 2008–May 11, 2008
The Howard Gilman Gallery

A Ramble in Olmsted Parks


‘And Their Winter and Night in Disguise’
George Oppen

The sea and a crescent strip of beach
Show between the service station and a deserted shack
A creek drains thru the beach
Forming a ditch
There is a discarded super-market cart in the ditch
That beach is the edge of a nation
There is something like shouting along the highway
A California shouting
On the long fast highway over the California mountains
Point Pedro
Its distant life
It is impossible the world should be either good or bad
If its colors are beautiful or if they are not beautiful
If parts of it taste good or if no parts of it taste good
It is as remarkable in one case as the other
As against this
We have suffered fear, we know something of fear
And of humiliation mounting to horror
The world above the edge of the foxhole belongs
         to the flying bullets, leaden superbeings
For the men grovelling in the foxhole danger, danger in being drawn to them
These little dumps
The poem is about them
Our hearts are twisted
In dead men’s pride
Dead men crowd us
Lean over us
In the emplacements
The skull spins
Empty of subject
The hollow ego
Flinching from the war’s huge air
Tho we are delivery boys and bartenders
We will choke on each other
Minds may crack
But not for what is discovered
Unless that everyone knew
And kept silent
Our minds are split
To seek the danger out
From among the miserable soldiers

George Oppen: Selected Poems

New Collected Poems


The Permanent Exile of W.G. Sebald
an interview with Jens Mühling in 2000
1 2 3

I do tell people in private conversations that there are other ways of making ends meet, and that writing often doesn't work when you try to force it. People usually understand that. I also make sure to tell everybody that it is extremely important to have a profession besides writing, no matter what job it is. There are certain professions that are more suitable than others, as a parallel to this kind of work. Being a doctor, for example, won't hurt. Whereas being a dentist is not so good. You know, as a dentist you always look into the same mouths and see the same holes. You never hear anything from the patients, because they sit there like this [pulls his mouth wide open and continues sentence in mock constrained voice], and they cannot say anything. Whereas as a physician you receive valuable insight into social contexts, family stories, personal problems, that is a lot of material. Well, and the best thing probably is to be a notary. Hereditary matters. Nowhere can you see as clearly how human beings work than where money is concerned. But on the whole it doesn't really matter what you are, be it an insurance agent or a teacher or whatever - you just have to have something that will free you from the burden of having to write something every day.
at Vertigo

via Three Percent


Detroit Public Schools Book Depository
Roosevelt Warehouse

via bookish monkey


The Next Slum?
Christopher B. Leinberger

The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures. And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.(...)

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

via Space & Culture


Sojourns in the Parallel World

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.
  - Denise Levertov

Poems by Denise Levertov


Prospect Park
Lee Friedlander


If your interested in Friedlander you'd do well to check Jeff Ward's collected posts.


Community with(out) Others
Michele Willson

All who try to theorise community - ways of being-together - face the difficulty of negotiating what I refer to rather awkwardly as the integrative/differentiating dilemma.(...)

There needs also to be recognition of the importance of physical bodies and the impact upon these bodies of our ways of being-together, and the ways in which we understand such being-together. As Nancy writes:

And still: a body dying of hunger; a tortured body; a broken will; an emptied look; a mass war grave; a ridiculous, frustrated, condition; and also the dereliction of the suburbs, the wandering of migrants; and even a confusion of youth or of old age; an insidious deprivation of being, a wasting (bousillage); a stupid scrawling: all this exists. It exists as a denial of existence. And there is nothing beyond existing (l'exister), and the existences to which one denies a sharing is itself a denied existence. This denial wherever it appears, reaches all existence, for it touches the in of the in-common. And thus we compear and respond to it, that is, to ourselves.
These bodies cannot be removed by simply relocating social forms in an abstract, technological realm. Such a conceptual manoeuvre is a denial of existence.

Dent du Midi
Oskar Kokoschka


Stephen Levy: "Forget about bookstores...."
Karl Pohrt

I found the event depressing and slightly creepy. I’ve been to enough of these sorts of things to realize the trajectory is always the same: respect is paid, then the knives come out.

The speakers talk about their “fierce attachment” to the “lovely culture” of books, using words like “old” and “charming” and “enchanting”. They talk about their “deep affinity for the physical book” and mention the smell and feel of books. They talk about the “bittersweet aspect” of what is about to happen.

Then the vocabulary switches and the beloved old uncle is hustled off stage. It is “inevitable” that the vast majority of reading will be done on digital devices. The speakers say things like “Kindle is really pretty cool” and “on-line social networks will have to substitute for the pleasure of bookstores” because we’re going to have to “forget about bookstores, they’re not going to be around.” Instead of lamenting this loss, they tell us “we should focus on the positive side.” Oh, maybe some small independent bookstores might still survive as gathering places for people who love the physical book.

Thanks, but I’m not buying into Mr. Levy’s idea for the future social role of independent bookshops. This flips us from being players in the cultural life of our communities to sales people hustling nostalgia items to the carriage trade.

via Three Percent

Shaman Drum Bookshop
founded by Karl Pohrt

There Is No Gap
Karl Pohrt

Shaman Drum: Behind the scenes
After 14 years alternative bookstore still going strong


Borders self-publishing and the idea of vanity
Ben Vershbow


John Szarkowski
1925 - 2007

... introduced the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and William Eggleston, secured the lasting reputations of Walker Evans, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and Andre Kertesz and rediscovered the forgotten French master Eugene Atget. Moreover, Mr. Szarkowski was the most influential photography critic of his time, writing several books now considered classics, including "The Photographer's Eye" (1966) and "Looking at Photographs" (1973).
  - Matt Schudel
Introduction to the catalog of the exhibition, The Photographer's Eye [PDF]
John Szarkowski
The sense of the picture's edge as a cropping device is one of the qualities of form that most interested the inventive painters of the latter nineteenth century. To what degree this awareness came from photography, and to what degree from oriental art, is still open to study. However, it is possible that the prevalence of the photographic image helped prepare the ground for an appreciation of the Japanese print, and also that the compositional attitudes of these prints owed much to habits of seeing which stemmed from the scroll tradition.(...)

The history of photography has been less a journey than a growth. Its movement has not been linear and consecutive but centrifugal. Photography, and our understanding of it, has spread from a center; it has, by infusion, penetrated our consciousness. Like an organism, photography was born whole. It is in our progressive discovery of it that its history lies.

Winesap from Barn
John Szarkowski
John Szarkowski Photographs
Lens Culture


Nick Benson’s presentation at ‘The Power and Politics of Translation’
Green Hill

Translators are well aware – maybe all too aware - of the fraught nature of their endeavor, and their prose (intro, afterword) is often marked by a startling and even embarrassingly frank discussion of merits, and a disavowal of grand ambition that is singular in the world of letters. Translators strike me as similar to anthropologists in their deep knowledge of their own hubris, with a sometimes paralyzing recognition of how context dictates worth and credibility. I like this statement by Ronald Knox, English translator of the classics, writing fifty-plus years ago: “The translator must do his best by using the speech that comes natural to him, fortified a little by those good old English words which are out of favour, but not obsolete. His style must be his own, his rhetoric and his emphasis must be that of his original. And always, at the back of his mind, he must imagine that he is the original. Can he hope, in any case, that his version will live? At least, if he does his work well, he will have the comfort of being pirated by his successors” . So, translators realize that their endeavor lives – for now. They know that it is in fact a wonder that their effort appears in your hands at all (more about this later).

The scream of geometry
Andrzej Tichy
(modified excerpts)
Translation by Linda Rugg and Andrzej Tichy

These things are on your mind as you sleep: (1) a landscape (2) two bodies (that is: one animal and one human) (3) the car. The landscape includes the rain. The car includes the bottle. The human includes the eye and the hand. The animal includes the idea of mortality. The rain includes the soldier. The bottle includes the idea of Albania. The eye includes the mother. The hand includes the wall. The idea of mortality includes the witness. The soldier includes the father, the idea of Bulgaria the names, the mother the end, the wall the moment, the witness the shot, and the shot the shot.(...)

Animals, landscapes. Direction, journey. One hundred soldiers shooting a Romanian policeman. A Macedonian. What is your image of this? You anticipate – but what? Which words are included? One hundred professional boxers shooting an Algerian news announcer. There are deserts, oceans, mountains, lowlands, savannas. Then there are evergreen forests, broadleaf forests, cultivated soil, tundra. Finally glaciers, prairies, pastureland, tropical rain forests, and taiga. Rank these. Animals, landscapes. One hundred Lebanese shooting a Belarusian maid. An infinite number of ways of not knowing. But the number of directions is infinite only from a mathematical perspective, in reality it is finite to such an extent that it spoils the whole journey.


The Album of my Life ; Photo-Album, 1963
Ismo Kajander



Great is Hungering
Spurious on Blanchot and Levinas

Even as enjoyment is exaltation - already the enjoyment of enjoyment, its doubling up in joy and gratification - it is also inhabited by uncertainty. One cannot by certain of having time to enjoy. What else is the experience of pain and suffering, for Levinas, but the absence of the prospect that seems to open to the ego in enjoyment - an immediacy that is given as the return of what detaches the present moment from any kind of future?

Blanchot again:

Dull, extinguished eyes burn suddenly with a savage gleam for a shred of bread 'even if one is perfectly aware that death is a few minutes away' and that there is no longer any point in nourishment.

This gleam, this brilliance does not illuminate anything living. However, with this gaze which is a last gaze, bread is given us bread. This gift, outside all reason, and at the point where all the values have been exterminated - in nihilist desolation and when all objective order has been given up - maintains life's fragile chance by the sanctification of hunger - nothing 'sacred', let us understand, if something which is given without being broken or shared by him who is dying of it ('Great is hungering', Levinas says, recalling a Jewish saying).

But at the same time the fascination of the dying gaze, where the space of life congeals, does not leave intact the need's demand, not even in a primitive form, for it no longer allows hunger (it no longer allows bread) to be related in any way to nourishment.

Veijo Laine
Veli Granö
Finnish National Gallery - Art Collections


Naked in the 'Nonopticon'
Surveillance and marketing combine to strip away our privacy
Siva Vaidhyanathan

F. Scott Fitzgerald's enigmatic Jay Gatsby could not exist today. The digital ghost of Jay Gatz would follow him everywhere. There are no second chances in the digital age. Rehabilitation demands substantial autonomy and control over one's record — or at least forgiveness. As long as we are held highly accountable for youthful indiscretions that are easily Googled by potential employers or U.S. customs agents, we limit social, intellectual, and actual mobility. And we deny everyone second chances. That's just plain un-American.

Because we have such a poor understanding of what we mean by privacy, and because it so often seems futile to put up a stand against mass surveillance, we must generate better terms, models, metaphors, and strategies to control our personal information. Each of us learns early on that there are public matters and private matters, and that we manage information differently inside our own home and outside it. Yet that distinction fails to capture the true complexity of the privacy tangle.

We each have at least four major "privacy interfaces," or domains, through which we negotiate what is known about us. Each of these offers varying levels of control and surveillance.(...)

Solove's book (The Future of Reputation) is an honest and troubling account of the ways that we have become our own enemies. But it is short on social analysis. He sees our current predicament as a set of legal problems to be solved. As such, Solove's book serves as a valuable introduction, but hardly a conclusive or comprehensive examination of privacy in the digital era. This emerging issue deserves further examination by social scientists and media scholars.

via if:book

The Future of Reputation
Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet free online
Daniel J. Solove

In an earlier book, The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, I explored how businesses and the government were threatening privacy by collecting massive digital dossiers of in- formation about people. In that book, it was easy to take sides. I ar- gued that information collection and use were threatening people's freedom and well-being, and that greater protection of privacy was necessary. When it comes to gossip and rumor on the Internet, how- ever, the culprit is ourselves. We're invading each other's privacy, and we're also even invading our own privacy by exposures of informa- tion we later come to regret. Individual rights are implicated on both sides of the equation. Protecting privacy can come into tension with safeguarding free speech, and I cherish both values. It is this conflict that animates this book.

"Bad abba the endgame. In-
seminal doomdom alert:
pueblo naturans or
else. But the breadcrumbs are gone, and the
story goes on, and how
haply an ending no
nextwise has shown us, nor known."

  Dennis Lee
  from "Tale" in Yesno

Christian Bök on Dennis Lee
...a neologistic style (reminiscent of Paul Celan) in order to speak about the forthcoming catastrophe of the environment. Lee has written a poetic lament about the willingness of humanity to rush onward into an ecological holocaust of the future—and while the tone of the work seems mordant in its playfulness, Lee strives to rebuild our fractured discourse in order to sing out against a disaster too horrible for ordinary language.

Lee pries apart words, detaching affixes from their roots and stems, in order to remix them into new permutations, just as the "gene wranglers" might remix the DNA of organisms at the brink of extinction. Lee thus fragments his language into a "mixmuster of raggedy allsorts" full of coughing stutters with their own species of "whacked grammar." The rugged syntax of his music almost calls to mind a bestial chatter, whose nonsense reveals the "high whys of/ lossolalia,/ one blurt at a time."


the sequel to Un—


Crusade of Surge and Siege
Manuel Valenzuela

Sojourn into the outer recesses of a nation bordering on madness, into a land deeply disturbed and emotionally bewildered, a world of anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, of fanaticism and fundamentalism, entering a case study into fantasyland and escapism, taking a pilgrimage into realms both of purposeful ignorance and blindness, of electing lifelong incompetents based on wanting to have a beer with them, walking through the dark valley of indifference, climbing the monolithic mountain of hubris, finally reaching the hallowed halls of smoke and mirrors, a place where only the blind lead the blind and where the deafening roars of death and destruction are easily suppressed in delusion and denial. Journey, if you will, into a nation that lost its moral compass inside the dungeons of fear and hatred.

Enter what fascists call the Homeland, what patriots used to call the United States of America, now named, simply, and appropriately, Amerika, a place where corporations enjoy more rights and protections than the People, where corporations — through their products and policies – help kill hundreds of thousands of human beings every year in the name of profit over people, making them mass murderers on a scale reserved only for humanity’s worst; a land controlled by the military-energy-industrial complex, with war the engine for unimaginable profits; a nation now without a Constitution, nor a moral standing; a country that has developed a thirst for human blood and an appetite for destruction; a land of Manifest Destiny leaving death, suffering and destruction in its wake; a sadist entity that develops and refines its crimes against humanity it inflicts upon the people of the world by first practicing them on its own citizenry.


Imprints of Joy

Jacques Henri Lartigue
1894 - 1986

1 2 3


Draft 88: X-Posting
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

                     Making do amid this Schande
Murky near and murky far.
Disruption, Hopelessness, Malfeasance, Fear.
Isn’t it plausible to feel
impure, baffled, resistant to “the literary,”
ensnared and burdened, split
into resistance and identification,
with chronic entrapment, panic, the incurable,
with fixed-income poverty, terminated benefits, with all the
Costs of Living revealed to me?


If the imperative of consumer capitalism is "lead us into temptation", then the shopping mall is its cathedral.
Simulated cities, sedated living
The shopping mall as paradigmatic site of lifestyle capitalism
Robert Misik
Translation by Simon Garnett
...little is said about the fact that something like a globalization of emotion and desire must exist, as well as a global understanding of the language of symbols through which a commodity communicates with the consumer (which doesn't, of course, rule out that a globally extending language of symbols is not an invitation to misunderstanding).

Draft 59: Flash Back
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Why use the alphabet to organize,
or why not? Discuss.
Suggest another mechanism of order.
One form and then another.
Something that sort of ends, but sort of not.
The alphabet is existentially funny.
Lettristic vaudeville, a blood-orange horizon.
Such obsidian wings
as talking points sashaying into zones.
I mean there’s satisfaction arriving at
(English) “zed,” and (American) “zee”
but no insistence that anything particular be.

Other end points where “arrival” is dissolved?
Maybe a grid with limits.
Maybe lengths of ribbon simply
cut to tie these presents.
Maybe qwerty or another
job-lot keyboard.
Pessoa’s was azerty.

But this is controversy
without particular point. One form or then another--
it means something, but in itself leads nowhere.
A Form itself, abstract thing, is not
self-evident in meaning.
It’s not one Anything.
“Form” is its particularized clot,
its histories and extensions, its situated outreach,
its power and prods.
Who has designs on us? and Why?
What is the force of our conviction?
Something had gotten away from us:
urgency for justice, intensities of ire,
lime-green as the after-image
in the eye of orange.

Where is it?
What are the real goals of this desire?


Block of Comments
Maaria Wirkkala
Finnish National Gallery - Art Collections


as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them to each other in the teeming dark

hold everything dear

the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay's small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil

the pledge of offered arms, the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot

but given as a torch

hold everything dear

Gareth Evans, Hold Everything Dear

Thanks to George LeChat

The Library
Chris Engman



hanging from the sky
kari edwards

I only keep company with coffee and
children who run with razors, but you have to love
them though, both take good photographs, go with
sugared almonds and christening. I wonder, what it
would be like to say: you have five months to live,
or have it said to you, as I just did? you have five
months to live. would you wait an hour in the
trenches with clenched iron fist idioms or what?

having been blue for charity
kari edwards

The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.(...)

It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language - all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.(...)

Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction. But who does not know of literature banned because it is interrogative; discredited because it is critical; erased because alternate? And how many are outraged by the thought of a self-ravaged tongue?(...)

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

  Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture December 7, 1993

Not Speaking of Torture
A Warning from Toni Morrison on the Importance of "Unmolested Language"
Jim Johnson

Alain Robbe-Grillet

"Now the shadow of the southwest column..."
an excerpt from Jealousy (1957), by Alain Robbe-Grillet, read by the author
in Aspen no. 5+6

'It may seem peculiar that...fragments of crude reality, which the filmed narrative cannot help presenting, strike us so vividly, whereas identical scenes in real life do not suffice to free us of our blindness. As a matter of fact, it is as if the very conventions of the photographic medium (the two dimensions, the black-and-white images, the frame of the screen, the difference of scale between scenes) help free us from our own conventions. The slightly "unaccustomed" aspect of this reproduced world reveals, at the same time, the unaccustomed character of the world that surrounds us: it, too, is unaccustomed insofar as it refuses to conform to our habits of apprehension and to our classification.'
   - Alain Robbe-Grillet, 'A Future for the Novel' - 1956
thanks to infinite thØught

Lawrence Venuti Tells us Some More About the Business of Translation
words without borders

...with translations publishing decisions need to be more self-conscious, more calculated, not simply because money is involved, but because foreign texts and cultures are involved, and whatever gets into the receiving culture will create an image for them. Because of this image, because translation patterns form identities for foreign cultures in the minds of readers, publishing as well as translating is laden with a fundamentally ethical responsibility. Publishers should be asking themselves what kind of image their translation of a foreign work will create for the foreign culture where it originated. If they are already asking this question, then there is yet another: To what extent is their thinking about that image merely inflected by current events and trends without some grasp of the foreign cultural traditions that make the work meaningful for readers in the foreign culture? I do realize that my argument may come off as sheer utopianism. I am asking publishers to alter not only their long-standing practices, but the way they live and breathe as publishers. A likely response is to dismiss my essay as “hooey,” as one American editor has in fact called it, while others are probably thinking that Venuti should stick to academic research and leave the economics of publishing to the people who know it best, publishers. Yet I speak from long experience as a translator working with trade publishers of different sizes, not just as a student of translation whose work in the archive has led him to refuse the present situation.
Translations on the Market
Lawrence Venuti

Philosophical Frontiers Journal
now also publishing online

The International Literary Quarterly - Issue 2


Heudnsk: Philadelphia Photography
E.C. "Ted" Adams

Ted's Blog


Innocent Flesh—Recruiting Kids to Kill
Ron Jacobs

... the US military is appalled and disturbed because some Iraqi insurgent groups (that may or may not have anything to do with Al Qaida in Iraq) are using videos to propagandize among adolescents in the hope that they will enlist. Meanwhile, the US military, which is engaged in the same type of operations as the Iraqi insurgency only as the occupying force, glorifies its mission of bloodshed, intimidation, and killing in videos, video games, in schools, on the television, at shopping malls and through the mails. Naturally, these methods are not training the US adolescents that they are targeting for operations, but they are definitely "meant to spread the US military's message among the young (to borrow Admiral Smith's words.)"(...)

As I write this, a news item is coming over the radio stating that the US Army Surgeon General issued an order telling military counselors to stop helping Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans fill out paperwork required to seek psychological assistance. After denying such a document existed, the General backtracked from that denial when the document was produced. He is now looking for another lie to explain away the order. Do you think the recruiters mention this to the teenagers they target?


Class Matters: Where We Stand
Bell Hooks
download here


Shopping town USA
Victor Gruen, the Cold War, and the shopping mall
Anette Baldauf
Translation by Simon Garnett

The transformation of shopping spaces designed by Gruen and Krummeck – in formal terms, from the principle of openness to that of enclosure, in material terms, the move from glass to concrete – can today be interpreted as a manifestation of the tectonic shift that gripped the political and cultural landscape of postwar America.(...)

The shopping centre, with its iconography of the bunker, offered a spatial translation of the foreign political strategy of "containment" and thereby established the material prerequisites for further, more subtle forms of social and cultural "containment". For example, the shopping centre underpinned the "containment" of women, who after the return of male soldiers after the Second World War had withdrawn from the employment market and invested their labour energy in raising children, housework, and consumption. It also offered the white residents of the suburbs a supervised safety zone that, while simulating urbanity, simultaneously guaranteed homogeneity. Because of this constellation, the history of the shopping centre is inevitably linked to the history of racist politics.


Rachel Blau DuPlessis

silence years long
Talking to you
you’re taking
both halves
of this
Who are you
talking to?
your voice
where does it come from
the full blown
Where do they come
from? the words
My father
what am I saying?
“We men we are lost”
They lock around our necks,
Their fascinating cries
“Save us” “Save us”
To turn away
from the roiled water
split now
no longer
whole never again
perfect like a daughter—
The cracked throat
my voice the
voice that no longer
fears (but does)
(fear) the necessity
to speak.

Wells [PDF]
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Duration Press

Torques: Drafts 58-76
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Reviewed by Ron Silliman

The only thing I’ve ever been able to find “wrong” with Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ marvelous life poem Drafts is the idea that some day it’s going to end, and that day is drawing increasingly near.(...)

...it is no surprise that Torques is a masterpiece. DuPlessis is completely on top of her game & willing to do just about anything if it will further the poem. I find that I read one section and then have to think about it for days before I'm willing to go onto the next - that's an effect I associate with very few poems - a few sections of "A," individual sections of The Pisan Cantos, Barrett Watten's Progress - & more akin to how I feel after a truly major motion picture (Children of Paradise, Weekend, Blow-Up, Pierrot le fou, The Red Desert, Ran). If you read a section of Drafts & it doesn't completely drain you - and haunt you - you're just skimming.


"The Colour Flows Back": [PDF]
Intention and Interpretation in Literature and in Everyday Action
Julia Tanney
Forthcoming in Journal of European Studies, vol. 38, no. 3 (September 2008).

As Frank Cioffi has argued, we are rather favouring one criterion of intention over another. Taking a close look at the early criticism surrounding The Turn of the Screw I draw attention to this phenomenon—much discussed by Wittgenstein—of favouring one criterion of intention over another. Because Wittgenstein’s views, though mentioned frequently, are still ill-understood, I go on to tease out the philosophical assumptions that lurk in the background of disputes about the relevance of intention for interpretation.

via Online Papers in Philosophy


Media Studies 2.0
William Merrin

Between my childhood media world and my son’s there is a chasm.(...)

... this isn’t simply a technology-driven transformation. It’s also driven by ourselves, as new generations embrace these technologies and discover and create new uses for them. What is fundamental is the way in which these users are reconfiguring their own social relations and expectations and producing entirely new modes of experience and knowledge. This is where the gap lies. This is the world we no longer share with our students.(...)

The problem is our core knowledge is no longer the core of the student’s media world. They live new media and apply for our courses because of that use and that interest. They may think they are applying to study media but they are actually applying to study media studies. In the broadcast-era that distinction didn’t matter but today, when the latter no longer reflects the former, it is fundamental. Our students arrive to discover a discipline that is ill-equipped or unwilling to deal with the world they live in. Our introductory modules and textbooks bear so little relationship to our student’s media experiences that the discipline itself appears lifeless and anachronistic at its point of entry and self-definition: at precisely that point when it should be engaging with these new minds. Broadcast-era media studies doesn’t work in a post-broadcast era.

via I cite


In Situ 2001–2005
Ari Saarto


A Poem of Myself
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Sometimes I cannot move at all and will not either
I imagine myself looking over a group of hills somewhere else, away.
In Italy.
The trees begin swaying as I watch them
Turning inward and outward onto myself.
No. I am sitting on a terrace and no one is bothering me.
Standing in entrances. About to come in.
My shoulders are hunched forward to hide my breasts.
When am I going to come into the room?
Come in, come in, I say to all the fragments
Wells [PDF]
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Duration Press

The Stonebreakers
Gustave Courbet
Destroyed during World War II

Gustave Courbet
Mark Rudman

The Stonebreakers—destroyed when Dresden was bombed.
Photograph of a photograph, close-up of a close-up:

Courbet and labor: Chink of the pick.
The men with their backs to us.

The old man, on his knees,
crouched by the roadside

in the dust and summer heat,
straw hat, patched trousers, striped vest,

and through the chinks in his cracked shoes
faded blue socks revealing his heels.

The young man standing beside him as if the two
were one person at different stages of life.

Looked at like this, the universe is a cramped place.
What is will remain unforgiven.

more at Green Hill


Ryan Larkin
July 31, 1943 - February 14, 2007
Directed by Chris Landreth


Wisdom of the Questioning Eye
Five books from the 1960s, by found poet Bern Porter

What to call Bern Porter? Found poet? Visual poet? Mail artist? Book artist? Pop artist? Concrete poet? He was each of these, and he will take his place in the histories of their genres (histories which have only begun to be written). And while it is true that the boundaries of these genres are permeable, allowing one to impregnate another, if we look for Porter's singular achievement, the one he delved into deeper and with more consistency than his contemporaries, it was as a found poet. As such, he is arguably the most significant found poet of the 20th century, if not all time.

Found implies lost. What others discarded he appropriated and claimed its authorship. He combed through trash (often at the post office, after sending off a fresh batch of mail art) to find new poems. In his life he scavenged for everything, not just language and imagery, but also food, clothing, and rides. (An ecologist before it was fashionable, he deliberately did not learn to drive or own a car.) He was living proof of his assertion, "Nuggets of value in the waste are everywhere for the looking, if only the viewer can develop his or her wisdom of the questioning eye."
  - Mark Melnicove

Bern Porter
(February 14, 1911–June 7, 2004)

How Bern Porter Saw The World
Alex Irvine

LIves don't come any more interesting than Bern Porter's.

In his 93 years on this Earth, he contributed to the invention of television, worked on the Manhattan Project and the Saturn V rocket, and made the acquaintances of Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Werner von Braun. He published Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, and Kenneth Rexroth, among others, and knew Gertrude Stein, Anaïs Nin, Allen Ginsberg, and many others you might name. He exerted a profound influence on the phenomenon known as mail art, traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on cruise ships, was married three times (once happily), spent several years in Guam, was an irascible crank, theorized a union of art and science called Sciart, was briefly committed to a mental institution, wrote more than 80 books including important bibliographies of Miller and F. Scott Fitzgerald, had a massive FBI file, lived and worked in Rhode Island, New York, Tennessee, California, Texas, Alabama, and Tasmania. At last he settled in Belfast, Maine, where he ran for governor, served on the Knox County Regional Planning Commission, called his house the Institute of Advanced Thinking, barraged the local paper with letters, and at the end of his life subsisted largely on soup kitchens and food gleaned from the munchie tables at art openings.

Bern Porter at UbuWeb Sound

An Interview with Bern Porter

Bern Porter:
Finding Poetry after the Manhattan Project & An Annotated Works Consulted
Arlo Quint


Local trees

part of an ongoing series at
mosses from an old manse


A Book Collecting Tour of Canada’s Maritime Provinces
Nigel Beale

door of the air raid shelter
in a neighbours garden
The Documentary Photography Archive
Greater Manchester region


In this room of open prediction, facts flash like a headland light. The search flares burst around you where you stand, lost in an information fantasia: tangled, graphical dances of devaluation, industrial upheaval, protective tariffs, striking shipbuilders, the G7, Paraguay, Kabul. The sweep of the digital now beyond its inventors’ collective ability to index— falls back, cowed by the sprawl of the runaway analog. . . . Data survive all hope of learning. But hope must learn how to survive the data.
  — Richard Powers, Plowing in the Dark
How Images Think
Ron Burnett
download at Fark Yaralari
Notwithstanding numerous efforts to "picture" and "decode" the ways in which the mind operates, profound questions remain about the relationships among mind, body, and brain and how all of the elements of consciousness interact with a variety of cultural and social environments and artifacts. How Images Think explores the rich intersections of image creation, production, and communication within this context of debate about the mind and human consciousness. In addition, the book examines cultural discourses about images and the impact of the digital revolution on the use of images in the communications process. The digital revolution is altering the fabric of research and practice in the sciences, arts, and engineering and challenging many conventional wisdoms about the seemingly transparent relationships between images and meaning, mind and thought, as well as culture and identity.

Cul de sac: 9/11 and the paradox of American power [PDF]
Carl Conetta

What changed on 9/11 were the political conditions ­ mostly domestic ­ weighing on US policymakers. After that day, most Americans saw the post-Cold War world and America's place in it differently. This change in popular perspectives and expectations enabled a change in US policy which, in turn, is now gradually altering the geostrategic environment. What was lacking before 9/11 was an integrative policy framework around which a broad, public consensus favoring military activism might form. Today, the "war on terror" is that framework. The follow-on concept of a "long war" against Islamic radicalism serves a similar function.

Neither framework, however, accurately models the current security environment and neither illuminates a sensible, sustainable approach to improving US and global security. If anything, present policy has set the United States on a course of diminishing security at increasing cost.

The outcome of America's post-9/11 surge in military spending and activity is a testament to the limits on the utility of war and other coercive means. Unintended, unanticipated, and chaotic consequences have predominated.

The Commonwealth Institute

via Mike Golby


American Psycho
The Meaning of Mitt Romney's Exit Speech
Chris Floyd

If you would like to see just how sick the American elite really is--how morally depraved, how intellectually diseased, how addicted to the taste of human flesh, the scent of human blood, and the sight of human suffering--then you need go no further than the speech given by Mitt Romney to the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 7, 2008.(...)

The Terror War is simply an extension of the long-held goal of the American elite (and their British "junior partners") to maintain and extend their dominion over the world's natural resources and political arrangements--and the exorbitant profits this dominion produces. There is ample evidence in the historical record of the Anglo-American elite's abiding--and quite open--anxieties on this score, going back for generations. Literally millions of people all over the world have been sacrificed to these ambitions and anxieties, which have not abated but grow more frantic and acute with each passing year.

And thus the climax of Romney's peroration: a frantic blithering about "evil and radical jihad" and "the inevitable military ambitions of China" and the burning need to "raise military spending to 4 percent of our GDP" and overriding imperative to keep the Terror War raging, particularly its central front in Iraq. None of this is remotely connected to the actual wellbeing, security and prosperity of the American people; quite the opposite. It is, however, absolutely vital to the preservation of the elite's power, privilege, self-image and status. And as they demonstrate day after day, they don't care how many people must die or suffer for this.

This is moral psychosis on a monumental scale. It is the complete and utter repudiation of every civilized ideal, of every fragment of enlightenment wrenched from the blood-drenched slagheap of human history. Yet it passes for normality in our political discourse.


The Terrorists Still at Ground Zero, 7 World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan
Alexander Cockburn

US interrogators torture men in secret prisons seeking to catch those members of Al Quaeda still at large, starting with Osama bin Laden and Aiman al-Zwahiri. Yet here's Moody's man calmly threatening to destroy the US government's credit ranking unless it follows his agenda, and he strolls around Lower Manhattan unmolested, even if his threats could add up to the financial equvalent of a thermonuclear device planted under the Statue of Liberty.

Moody's runs a protection game. It issue credit ratings, (in 2007 no less than 39 percent of the global credit rating market by revenue, according to Bloomberg) based on public data and private information made available by those clients that have "voluntarily" retained their services. The price of not volunteering can be high.


Giordano Bruno
burned at the stake
February 17, 1600.

"This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the center of things."
   -  Giordano Bruno, On Cause, Principle, and Unity
Giordano Bruno's Last Meal in Finnegans Wake
Thornton Wilder


Swan Song for NATO
The Real Cost Of Defeat In Forgettistan
Mike Whitney

It was supposed to be "the good war"; a war against terror; a war of liberation. It was intended to fix the eyes of the world on America's state of the art weaponry, its crack troops and its overwhelming firepower. It was supposed to demonstrate—once and for all-- that the world's only superpower could no longer be beaten or resisted; that Washington could deploy its troops anywhere in the world and crush its adversaries at will.

Then everything went sideways. The war veered from the Pentagon's script. The Taliban retreated, waited, regrouped and retaliated. They enlisted support from the Pashtuns and the tribal leaders who could see that America would never honor its commitments; that order would never be restored. Operation Enduring Freedom has brought neither peace nor prosperity to Afghanistan; just occupation. Seven years have passed and the country is still ruled by warlords and drug-merchants. Nothing has gotten better. The country is in shambles and the government is a fraud. The humiliation of foreign occupation persists while the killing goes on with no end in sight.

War is not foreign policy. It is slaughter. Seven years later; it's still slaughter. The Taliban have taken over more than half of Afghanistan. They have conducted military operations in the capital of Kabul. They're dug in at Logar, Wardak and Ghazni and control vast swathes of territory in Zabul, Helmand, Urzgan and Kandahar. Now they are getting ready to step-up operations and mount a Spring offensive. That means the hostilities will progressively intensify.

The Taliban's approach is methodical and deliberate. They've shown they can survive the harshest conditions and still achieve tactical victories over a better-equipped enemy. They are highly-motivated and believe their cause is just. After all, they're not fighting to occupy a foreign nation; they're fighting to defend their own country. That strengthens their resolve and keeps morale high. When NATO and American troops leave Afghanistan; the Taliban will remain, just as they did when the Russians left 20 years ago. No difference. The US occupation will just be another grim footnote in the country's tragic history.


Lakeshore Boulevard

A Celebration of Winters Long Ago
Archives of Ontario


Statement of Principles
Jerzy Grotowski
1933 - 1999

The rhythm of life in modern civilization is characterized by pace, tension, a feeling of doom, the wish to hide our personal motives and the assumption of a variety of roles and masks in life (different ones with our family, at work, amongst friends or in community life, etc.-). We like to be "scientific", by which we mean discursive and cerebral, since this attitude is dictated by the course of civilization. But we also want to pay tribute to our biological selves, to what we might call physiological pleasures. We do not want to be restricted in this sphere. Therefore we play a double game of intellect and instinct, thought and emotion; we try to divide ourselves artificially into body and soul. When we try to liberate ourselves from it all we start to shout and stamp, we convulse to the rhythm of music. In our search for liberation we reach biological chaos. We suffer most from a lack of totality, throwing ourselves away, squandering ourselves.(...)

Why do we sacrifice so much energy to our art? Not in order to teach others but to learn with them what our existence, our organism, our personal and unrepeatable experience have to give us; to learn to break down the barriers which surround us and to free ourselves from the breaks which hold us back, from the lies about ourselves which we manufacture daily for ourselves and for others; to destroy the limitations caused by our ignorance and lack of courage; in short, to fill the emptiness in us: to fulfill ourselves. Art is neither a state of the soul (in the sense of some extraordinary, unpredictable moment of inspiration) nor a state of man (in the sense of a profession or social function). Art is a ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light.

We fight then to discover, to experience the truth about ourselves; to tear away the masks behind which we hide daily. We see theatre - especially in its palpable, carnal aspect - as a place of provocation, a challenge the actor sets himself and also, indirectly, other people. Theatre only has a meaning if it allows us to transcend our stereotyped vision, our conventional feelings and customs, our standards of judgment - not just for the sake of doing so, but so that we may experience what is real and, having already given up all daily escapes and pretenses, in a state of complete defenselessness unveil, give, discover ourselves. In this way - through shock, through the shudder which causes us to drop our dally masks and mannerisms - we are able, without hiding anything, to entrust ourselves to something we cannot name but in which live Eros and Charitas.

Source Material on Jerzy Grotowski


Le Diverse et Artificiose Machine
Agostino Ramelli

This is a beautiful and ingenious machine, very useful and convenient for anyone who takes pleasure in study, especially those who are indisposed and tormented by gout. For with this machine a man can see and turn through a large number of books without moving from one spot. Moreover, it has another fine convenience in that it occupies very little space in the place where it is set, as anyone of intelligence can clearly see from the drawing.
  - Ramelli
    quoted at Serendipities

Disciplining Literature in the Age of Postdisciplinarity: An Introduction
William Egginton and Peter Gilgen

Disciplining Literature
Stanford Humanities Review Volume 6.1, 1998


Narratological Amphibiousness, or:

Invitation to the Covert History of Possibility
Lance Olsen

(the) moment of permeability and opportunity, I should probably emphasize at this juncture, is not an exclusively postmodern one.

Or, if it is an exclusively postmodern one, then we must begin to think of postmodernity less as a discrete historical period than as a diffuse ahistorical state of consciousness whose propensity is for opening up and out rather than closing down and in - a mode of perpetual questioning (of language, of form, of experience) that leads to a position of perpetual floating.


pinhole photographs
Steve Irvine

shot with this

one of Steve's
ceramic pinhole cameras

via Mrs. Deane


Thinking Past "Post-Avant"
K. Silem Mohammad

I'm not seeing any coherency in the "post-avant" rubric. At least, no more than there is in the habit of thought that allows "new wave" to encompass both The Slits and The Go Gos. Part of the confusion comes from the related, prior error of assuming that there are two genealogies of poetic influence in America: one quietudinous and repressive, the other modernist and liberatory. There are in fact fourteen main genealogies, eleven of which overlap with each other, producing in effect thirty-seven sub-genealogies, which in turn generate a mandala-like criss-crossing wheel of two hundred and sixty-eight microgenealogies, some consisting of single poets or even blank slots reserved for potential poets. I've got it all written down somewhere.

Language as Transient Act
An excerpt from the introduction to The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen
Leslie Scalapino

Unfinished, 3:XII:55
Philip Whalen

We have so much
That contemplating it
We never learn the use—

Poisoning ourselves with food,
with books
with sleep

Ignorance quicker than cyanide
Cuts us down
No lack of opportunity to learn;
Flat-footed refusal! Call it
Perversion, abuse, bullheadedness
It is rejection of all we know

A single waking moment destroys us
And we cannot live without

Three Poems by Philip Whalen
Reed Magazine: Winter 2008

John Boyd


De-ontologizing the Brain
from the fictional self to the social brain
Charles T. Wolfe

The brain thinks, not man. Man is just a cerebral crystallization.
   --  Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari

I don't pretend to account for the Functions of the Brain. I never heard of a System or a Philosophy that could do it.
   --  Bernard Mandeville

What can a philosopher say about phantom limb syndrome? More specifically, what can a materialist philosopher say about phantom limb syndrome?