wood s lot   march 1 - 15, 2008

Japanese photography
Bakumatsu-Meiji Period


Babble with Beckett
How foreign languages can provide writers with a way out of the familiar
Marina Warner

... soundings on the ear gain salience when meanings have been consciously acquired. Also, when sound produces sense as if organically, as its own pith, then the gap between the live thing in the world and its name can be closed – or almost. As Beckett wrote about this elusive ideal, “Watt set to trying names for things, almost as a woman tries on hats”. In 1930, in one of her most free-associating essays, “On Being ill”, Virginia Woolf meditated on the relation between sounding and meaning:
In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality. We grasp what is beyond their surface meaning, gather instinctively this, that, and the other – a sound, a colour, here a stress, there a pause – which the poet, knowing words to be meagre in comparison with ideas, has strewn about his page to evoke, when collected, a state of mind which neither words can express nor the reason explain . . . . In health meaning has encroached upon sound. Our intelligence domineers over our senses. But in illness, with the police off duty . . . words give out their scent and distil their flavour . . . . Foreigners, to whom the tongue is strange, have us at a disadvantage.
Mallarmé and Beckett were “foreigners” in relation to English and French respectively, and they both used their advantage, but with this difference: Mallarmé’s English lessons exhibit a scrupulous, chaste fastidiousness with language that Beckett profoundly shares; a near-pedantry, the grammarian’s niceties. But Mallarmé’s writings in English sever language from subjectivity, and syntax from significance. They do not possess Beckettian poignancy, or his sense of personal hebetude.

The Lost Poets of the Wild
The Influence of the First Writing Poets in Sumer
David Rosenberg
The essay that follows looks past the earliest Hebraic strand of the Bible, c. 920 B.C.E., to the Sumerian poets who provided the sources for both the Epic of Gilgamesh and the life of Abraham. These Sumerian poems and their strategies of narrative and lament, dream and cosmic theater, are what the ancient biblical poets inherited and turned into characters. Recent poets as diverse as Charles Olson, bpNichol, and Alice Notley have used portions of the Sumerian poems but without digging into their actual authorship or influence on poetry in the West.

That influence comes primarily through the creative portions of the Bible and we can find it in Milton and Blake, in Duncan and Reznikoff, all of whom had serious biblical encounters. But poets today, in their reluctance to engage things biblical, have further repressed the visionary wells at which our first writing poets — and their innovative translators — drank.


Slouching Towards Bethlehem
The New Gilded Age and Neoliberalism’s Theater of Cruelty

Henry Giroux

Income inequality — which began rising at the same time that modern conservatism began gaining political power — is now fully back to Gilded Age levels.
   –  Paul Krugman
What is often ignored by many theorists who analyze the rise of neoliberalism in the United States is that it is not only a system of economic power relations, but also a political project of governing and persuasion intent on producing new forms of subjectivity and particular modes of conduct. In addressing the absence of what can be termed the cultural politics and public pedagogy of neoliberalism, I want to begin with a theoretical insight provided by the British media theorist, Nick Couldry, who insists that “every system of cruelty requires its own theatre,” one that draws upon the rituals of everyday life in order to legitimate its norms, values, institutions, and social practices.3 Neoliberalism represents one such a system of cruelty, one that is reproduced daily through a regime of commonsense and a narrow notion of political rationality that “reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to educational policy to practices of empire.”

What is new about neoliberalism in a post-9/11 world is that it has become normalized, serving as a powerful pedagogical force that shapes our lives, memories, and daily experiences, while attempting to erase everything critical and emancipatory about history, justice, solidarity, freedom, and the meaning of democracy.


Defenders of the Faith
Slavoj Zizek

What about restoring the dignity of atheism, one of Europe's greatest legacies and perhaps our only chance for peace?(...)

More than a century ago, in "The Brothers Karamazov" and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn't exist, then everything is permitted. The French philosopher André Glucksmann even applied Dostoyevsky's critique of godless nihilism to 9/11, as the title of his book, "Dostoyevsky in Manhattan," suggests.

This argument couldn't have been more wrong: the lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the "godless" Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.


Fish, Mr.—Artist Illustrator of—177 Cartoons


Onward Christian Soldiers
Sheila Samples

History's madmen are eerily similar in their sense of manifest destiny. They are the offspring of promiscuous copulation between religious zealots and crusading warmongers, and seem to arrive fullblown on the scene, bloated with Biblical bloodlust. And, did you notice that a destructive, all-powerful God personally chose each of them for a particular moment in history? Strange, isn't it, that each power-mad dictator's "moment" involves massive expansion - a Messianic struggle for world dominion - an insatiable thirst for the destruction of all who stand in his way.


Timber, Bookshelves, World Domination, Etc
Scott McLemee

Crooked Timber has been listed as one of the world’s fifty most powerful blogs by The Guardian.(...)

It seems appropriate, then, to follow up Henry’s recent post about bookshelves with a notice that Matt Christie is offering wooden shelves to the public at a reasonable price. (They are much more attractive than some I’ve seen lately.) Matt also turns out chopping blocks.

Anybody who combines woodworking with Blanchot deserves a plug on the 33rd most powerful blog in the world. The precise metrics used to determine that ranking are probably among the Guardian’s trade secrets, of course.

Jerry Spagnoli

A Conversation with Jerry Spagnoli
Jörg Colberg:

A fundamental reason I use photography in my work is to exploit its apparent simple transmission of facts, its objectivity. We all know that photographs lie, actually, to put it more accurately, photographs tell tales. In our daily life we take our experience of the world as objective, neutral, and trustworthy but of course everything we experience is heavily mediated by our training, past experiences and patterns of thought. We structure our lives by the stories we use to give meaning to what would otherwise be a chaos of information. It's this experience of the world as an endless matrix of individual narratives that I am trying to get at with my work. Using different photographic technologies allows me to approach it from different angles.

Social Multiplicities and Agency
By larvalsubjects on Potential

Increasingly I am coming to feel that Continental social and political theory- especially in its French inflection coming out of the Althusserian, Foucaultian, Lacanian, and structuralist schools -woefully simplifies the social and therefore is led to ask the wrong sorts of questions where questions of political change is concerned.(...)

Given that questions of change are today the central question of Continental social and political philosophy, I am stunned that most social and political thinkers have not paid more attention to evolutionary theory. Indeed, it is not unusual to find Lacanians disparagingly rejecting evolutionary theory, claiming to be "creationist", and denouncing evolutionary theory for being teleological and premised on harmonious relations with the world, thereby revealing their tremendous and shocking ignorance of what evolutionary thought actually argues (Alexandre Leupin and more recently A. Kiarina come to mind). No doubt this hostility, in part, is probably motivated by a superior and arrogant hostility (phobia?) many Continental philosophers have towards all things pertaining to the natural sciences (there seems to be a similar and unwarranted rejection of neurology and cognitive psychology, closing ourselves off to vast bodies of findings, coupled with a deep hostility towards hard sciences like physics). Often this hostility is motivated by well-founded political concerns (in the case of neurology and cognitive psychology worries over the medicalization of mental disorders), and perhaps the influence of Heidegger's famous meditations on technology. On the other hand, it is likely that there is a well founded suspicion of biology and evolutionary science due to inflated claims coming out of sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and, of course, theses surrounding natural selection (with the way in which Social Darwinism odiously picked up and distorted Darwin's thought).


Stolen Suffering
Daniel Mendelsohn

In an era obsessed with “identity,” it’s useful to remember that identity is precisely that quality in a person, or group, that cannot be appropriated by others; in a world in which theme-park-like simulacra of other places and experiences are increasingly available to anyone with the price of a ticket, the line dividing the authentic from the ersatz needs to be stressed, rather than blurred. As, indeed, Ms. De Wael has so clearly blurred it, for reasons that she has suggested were pitiably psychological. “The story is mine,” she announced. “It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving.”(...)

That pervasive blurriness, the casualness about reality that results when you can turn off entire worlds simply by unsubscribing, changing a screen name, or closing your laptop, is what ups the cultural ante just now. It’s not that frauds haven’t been perpetrated before; what’s worrisome is that, maybe for the first time, the question people are raising isn’t whether the amazing story is true, but whether it matters if it’s true. Perhaps the most dismaying response to the James Frey scandal was the feeling on the part of many readers that, true or false, his book had given them the feel-good, “redemptive” experience they’d hoped for when they bought his novel — er, memoir.


McClellan Street

These photographs of McClellan Street by David and Peter Turnley, taken in 1972-73, help us understand how America came to be the country that it is today.

Sorting Through The Rubble in Post-Bubble America
Mike Whitney

An article in the New York Times by Morgan Stanley's Asia chairman, Stephen Roach, states that the country is not in a cyclical downturn, but post-bubble recession. There is a big difference. The Fed's interest rate cuts and Bush's “Stimulus Plan” are unlikely to stop housing prices from continuing to fall nor will they miraculously fix the problems in the credit markets. The massive expansion of credit in the last 6 years has created a $45 trillion derivatives balloon that could implode or just partially unwind. No one really knows. And no one really knows how much damage it will cause to the global financial system. Stay tuned. Roach notes that the recession of 2000 to 2001 was a collapse of business spending which only represented a 13% of GDP. Compare that to the current recession which “has been set off by the simultaneous bursting of property and credit bubbles.... Those two economic sectors collectively peaked at 78 percent of gross domestic product, or fully six times the share of the sector that pushed the country into recession seven years ago.”

Not only will the impending recession be six times more severe; it will also be the death-knell for America's consumer-based society. Attitudes towards spending have already changed dramatically since prices on food and fuel have increased. That trend will only grow as hard times set in.


Smart Bombs, Serial Killing, and the Rapture
The Vanishing Bodies of Imperial Apocalypticism
Peter Yoonsuk Paik

... avowedly antihumanist ideas have been increasingly breaking the surface of public discourse after 9/11--whether as the open advocacy of imperialism by Robert Kaplan or the "new racism" that justifies itself not on the basis of the "cultural" or "natural" superiority of the West but according to "unabashed economic egotism". Yet such appeals to brute, naked force and amoral national interest run counter to the value system of Christian morality (underscored by the title of Kaplan's book) that informs mainstream American society. It is instructive here to refer to Zizek's account of ideology, the function of which is to "combine a series of 'inconsistent' attitudes" inclusive of sentiments of both assent and critique, so that the "obscene unwritten rules" which sustain power may prevail over the public Law. Ideology is thus a way to "have one's cake and eat it," providing unity for heterogeneous and contradictory positions, such as believing in the existence of a Christian God and a moral universe while approving of tyrannies and massacres in developing countries as the necessary conditions for one's own peace, security, and economic well-being. Such antagonistic contents become unified through a "quilting point" (point de capiton), an "effectively [...] immanent, purely textual operation" that becomes comprehended as an "unfathomable, transcendent, stable point of reference concealed behind the flow of appearances and acting as its hidden cause".

This Bud's for you
Katrine Kielos
Translation by Sarah Death

Ronald Reagan's ability to get working men to vote for policies that were clearly not in their interests casts a long shadow over US politics post 9/11.

Joseph Mills
cohen amador gallery


Five poems
Peter Dale Scott
The Tao of 9/11

(my starting salary in ‘61                                                                   
could buy a third of a good Berkeley house
a starting salary today
paying perhaps a twentieth)

increasing income disparities
the sign our state is declining
the homeless we no longer support
and have grown used to not thinking about

as we step across them
towards our ATMs
what Sallust and Arnold discerned
in Rome and Victorian London

privatim opulentia
publice egestas                                                                           
until the republic is suborned
by these forces we cannot see

for which the intellectual price
is a shrinkage of our culture
towards the trivialities
of narcotic distractions undecipherable poets

and expansion of empire
with help from al Qaeda
until now there are American troops
from Kyrgyzstan to Kosovo.

A Ballad Of Drugs And 9/11
Peter Dale Scott

Peter Dale Scott


The Pleasure Garden
Ans Westra
via Mrs. Deane


Rites and Rituals
Thomas Crawford Gibbs

More than once, late at night when the chaplain has gone home, I have been asked by grieving parents to baptize their stillborn infant. I could leave it for the nurses but these are my patients. So I become a priest and honor the request. I enter the utility room again. I turn on the facet in the sink and wait for the water to warm. I don’t know why I do this, the baby is not alive, the baby doesn’t know, it can’t feel, it is dead. I do it anyway.(...)

It is not because I believe. In fact, I do not believe that these dead infants are lost souls in need of absolution. I have read the theology of man’s carnal nature. Standing here in front of the sink it doesn’t make any sense.

I have done what I was asked. I still wonder. Now that all hope is gone, do the parents grasp at their belief in another life? In the midst of their loss do they still have faith? To me this rite shows that the baby belonged to them, that it is included in their family traditions, that it has a history.(...)

Rites and Rituals, sometimes when I am baptizing stillborns at the hospital, it seems rites and rituals are all we have. Like those grieving patients, like Donnie, like me—even when we don’t understand—we still want a record, a family history. We still want to belong. That is why I do what my patients need me to do. I do what I can. I do no harm.

Hospital Drivea journal of reflective practice in word and image

new pages blog

An excerpt from
Giving Offense
Essays on Censorship
by J. M. Coetzee

Children are not, qua children, innocent. We have all been children and know—unless we prefer to forget—how little innocent we were, what determined efforts of indoctrination it took to make us into innocents, how often we tried to escape from the staging-camp of childhood and how implacably we were herded back. Nor do we inherently possess dignity. We are certainly born without dignity, and we spend enough time by ourselves, hidden from the eyes of others, doing the things that we do when we are by ourselves, to know how little of it we can honestly lay claim to. We also see enough of animals concerned for their dignity (cats, for instance) to know how comical pretensions to dignity can be.

Innocence is a state in which we try to maintain our children; dignity is a state we claim for ourselves. Affronts to the innocence of our children or to the dignity of our persons are attacks not upon our essential being but upon constructs—constructs by which we live, but constructs nevertheless. (...)

Life, says Erasmus's Folly, is theater: we each have lines to say and a part to play. One kind of actor, recognizing that he is in a play, will go on playing nevertheless; another kind of actor, shocked to find he is participating in an illusion, will try to step off the stage and out of the play. The second actor is mistaken. For there is nothing outside the theater, no alternative life one can join instead. The show is, so to speak, the only show in town. All one can do is to go on playing one's part, though perhaps with a new awareness, a comic awareness.

We thus arrive at a pair of Erasmian paradoxes. A dignity worthy of respect is a dignity without dignity (which is quite different from unconscious or unaffected dignity); an innocence worthy of respect is an innocence without innocence.

via ads without products


Opening of meeting house
September 1960
Arns Westra

The Eye of an Outsider
A Conversation with Ans Westra


Being Gazed Upon
G.L. Mind

There are many kinds of looks, but a gaze is peculiar. It is a steady look. It is not a dirty look, though it may be “dirty” in some sense. (The man’s gaze made me feel dirty, among other complex sensations, but it was hardly a dirty look.) A gaze is never wild, though it may be mad. A gaze may not actually last long, but it is never a blink, neither hasty nor abrupt. It cannot be confused with a glance or a glimpse. There may be a battle of gazes. The gazer may “avert his gaze” under pressure or threat. I was afraid, and had no way to explore this option in Chicago. A gaze’s steadiness reflects thoughtfulness. It indicates a mind at work (somewhere, unknown and remote) thinking, drawing inferences, contemplating. It is the opposite of a stare. A stare shows dispassion, even an implacable lack of emotional connection. It is the look of an animal contemplating prey, or that of an android. (Tracking and identification data scroll down a head’s-up screen covering its field of vision.) A stare, heartless, without empathy, is the way you might expect a psychopath to consider you before making his kill. Men seem to understand the weight of intimidation that a stare can convey: in many sports, such as boxing, the initial stare-down is a ritual of domination. Even in make-believe, a stare displays an aggressive contempt and indifference: pitiful bug, I am going to destroy you. However brief, a gaze indicates thoughtfulness. The gazer seems to contemplate the person he gazes upon and even to invite connection.

Stanko Abadžic


Another reason I don't like to define the word "book," is that I've been to so many conferences where four days are spent debating, quibbling, and yelling in very emotional fashion about what is a book, which usually means, "What I make are books, what you make is something else." There are only twenty-five people in the whole world that care about this stuff, why are we fighting? What we should be doing is encouraging people who only watch videos, who only listen to music to see artists' books. But people want to draw little lines in the sand and say, "This is my territory, stay off it." I feel a library can be more neutral ground, where hopefully you don't take sides. That's very conscious on my part. I do not take sides. Nobody would have any clue whether I really, honestly, in my soul, love this book or hate it, because it is inappropriate for me to share that.
Not Simply a Gathering
A Conversation with Sandra Kroupa, University of Washington Book Arts and Rare Books Curator
In this interview I asked her to take up the role of a book curator directly. The final product is a cooperative effort, excerpted and edited in May 2007 from a longer transcribed interview from March 2005. Here, we talk about how the collections began and her ongoing role as a simultaneous supporter of artists and academics; about questions of access and user control and how libraries compare to museums; and how, in terms of access, the artwork that is “the book” holds a unique place in our culture. At the intersection of our work in education, we discuss the relatively unacknowledged cultural power of choosing a collection of texts for others, whether for a library or for a course syllabus. Finally, Sandra speaks to how the job of curating feels from the inside. How does her sense of her work—The Collection—compare to what painters or writers might feel looking back on their creations? For, although Sandra herself might protest, an aesthetic collection developed under the oversight of one person for forty years is, itself, nothing less than a work of art.
Invisible Culture Issue 11: Curator and Context


Gérard Garouste
Edmond Jabes
Livres d'artistes


The Online Education Database
250 “killer digital libraries and archives”

thanks to David Mattison at The Ten Thousand Year Blog


an interview with Steve McCaffery

My only home in Canada was Toronto and when I moved there in 1968 it felt harshly backward and repressive. But that quickly changed. Meeting bp Nichol in 1969 and forming the Four Horsemen in 1970 helped me contextualize my practice and learn about the scene. With the Vietnam War driving loads of American poets to Canada, Toronto felt something like a 1916 Zurich at the time of the birth of the Dada sound poem. Then, of course, there are the Montreal Automatistes in Quebec (banished by Bréton from mainstream Surrealism) who preceded the birth of the Horsemen. Sound poetry arose as collective sound poetry in Toronto. Curiously it never really happened in the States. Charles Amirkhanian was doing a bit of work and Bliem Kern, but nothing that was comparable to the Horsemen. Although in England there was Bob Cobbing’s work and sound poetry collectives in England, such as JgJgJgJ, and in Europe a tremendous amount of sound poetry, but it manifested predominantly as the practice of individual people rather than as collective, group performance. As to why, I can’t answer, maybe something in Toronto in the 1970s, but I can speak to coming from England in 1968 and feeling this terrible pressure as an artist to contribute to the dissemination of national identity. I welcomed bill bissett’s publishing ventures, and bp Nichol’s too, which were (like Eshleman’s) established on a loose editorial policy of national alongside international content. (Czech poets like Jiri Valoch were being published alongside my work and that was personally very liberating.) The enlarged cartography, and the fact that both sound and concrete poetry emerged as international phenomena, was what I found attractive.

Sven Birkerts on Literary Publishing at Agni
Denise Hill (New Pages Blog) reports on "Writing in Public: A Celebration of Karl Pohrt"

There to celebrate Pohrt were guest authors Andrea Barrett and Gary Snyder, both of whom read on Thursday evening. On Friday, there were three panels: Literary Publishing, Writing in the Schools, and From Page to Screen. We were able to attend Literary Publishing with Sven Birkerts, Editor of Agni, Michale Wiegers, Executive Editor of Copper Canyon, and Rebecca Wolff, Editor and Publisher of Fence Magazine and Fence Books.

What It's Not
Karen Kevorkian

The day before snow hills crest subatomic, dyed turquoise
of the Indian tourist bracelet, reactor pool
chaos. Wind rattles
coin colored cottonwood

coin of stories told to children not memory’s alloy
coin of light on still water

or when a stranger takes your arm asks tonight where you’ll sleep.
Coin of rejection coin of the quick response

holding onto the coin of silence coin of the empty room
coin of the red wine in the glass.

Country dark is not the well understood city dark
its neon and taillight. Country dark is pitch

never mind the star-gabbling sky.
You can’t buy your way out of it.

Karen Kevorkian - Eight Poems

dug out
83 cm (32 inches) of snow in the past week


Like ‘The Wire’? You’re Living It.
Marc Bousquet,

In this final season of David Simon’s The Wire, we see the dystopic contemporary Baltimore created by the class war from above. It’s a city ravaged by “quality management,” the same philosophy that administrations across the country have adopted in shunting the overwhelming majority of college faculty into contingent positions.

As Time magazine television critic James Poniewozik puts it, “All The Wire’s characters face the same forces in a bottom-line, low-margin society, whether they work for a city department, a corporation, or a drug cartel. A pusher, a homicide cop, a teacher, a union steward: they’re all, in the world of The Wire, middlemen getting squeezed for every drop of value by the systems they work for.”

What the show grasps is that private corporate and public institutional managers both employ “quality” in an Orwellian register in which a “quality process” is one of continuously increasing workload and continuously eroding salary and benefits, with a single, doltish mantra employed everywhere—in police departments, in social services, and school systems, just as on college campuses: the perpetual command to “Do More With Less.” The human cost isn’t just the immiseration of the workforce. It’s also the failure of these intrusively and anti-socially managed institutions, “highly productive” on paper, to actually deliver the policing, health care, and education they exist to provide.

How The University Works
Marc Bousquet


The Weather
John Newlove

I'd like to live a slower life.
The weather gets in my words
and I want them dry. Line after line
writes itself on my face, not a grace
of age but wrinkled humour. I laugh
more than I should or more
than anyone should. This is good.

But guess again. Everyone leans, each
on each other. This is a life
without an image. But only
because nothing does much more
than just resemble. Do the shamans
do what they say they do, dancing?
This is epistemology.

This is guesswork, this is love,
this is giving up gorgeousness to please you,
you beautiful dead to be. God bless
the weather and the words. Any words. Any weather.
And where or whom. I'd never taken count before.
I wish I had. And then
I did. And here
the weather wrote again.

from: Apology for Absence: Selected Poems 1962-1992

John Newlove
1938 - 2003
A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove
edited by Robert McTavish, with an afterword by Jeff Derksen
Chaudiere Books, 2007.

Dance of Words: The poetry of John Newlove
John Cunningham

Paul Vermeersch on John Newlove

Newlove never attempted to hide his disappointment with the world, at least not in his poetry. He often expressed an antipathy that many people feel but lack the nerve to express themselves. He was the pinch-hitter for our secret bitterness, the darker and more forthright part of our conscience. His raw material was the ugly truth; from it he forged poems that demonstrate the intrinsic beauty of all human emotions, not just the comfortable ones, and he understood, as Aristotle and Shakespeare did, that the grandest of them all, the most poetic, is our melancholy. Few have given voice to human sadness as eloquently as Newlove did, as he demonstrates in his poem She:
She starts to grow tears, chemical beast
shut in a dark room with the walls closing
behind her eyelids, all touches hateful,
the white sweep of clean snow death to her,
the grey naked trees death to her.

Chaudiere Books blog




The Double-Headed Snake
John Newlove

Not to lose the feel of the mountains
while still retaining the prairies
is a difficult thing. What’s lovely
is whatever makes the adrenalin run;
therefore I count terror and fear among
the greatest beauty. The greatest
beauty is to be alive, forgetting nothing,
although remembrance hurts
like a foolish act, is a foolish act.

Beauty’s whatever
makes the adrenalin run. Fear
in the mountains at night-time’s
not tenuous, it is not the cold
that makes me shiver, civilized man,
white, I remember
the stories of the Indians,
Sis-i-utl, the double-headed snake.

Beauty’s what makes
the adrenalin run. Fear at night
on the level plains, with no horizon
and the stars too bright, wind bitter
even in June, in winter
the snow harsh and blowing,
is what makes me
shiver, not the cold air alone.

Three poems
John Newlove

T. W. Sanders
Trees: Knock on Wood


The Sick Planet
Guy Debord

While imbecilic reactionaries still hold forth on and against an aesthetic critique of all this, and believe themselves lucid and modern when they affect to marry their century by proclaiming that the super-highway and Sarcelles have their own beauty, which one must prefer to the discomfort of the "picturesque" old neighborhoods, or by gravely remarking that the entirety of the population eats better, despite those nostalgic for good food, the problem of the degradation of the totality of the natural and human environment already completely ceases to pose itself on the plane of so-called ancient quality, aesthetic or otherwise, and radically becomes the problem of the material possibility for existence of a world that pursues such a movement. This impossibility is in fact already perfectly demonstrated by all of separated scientific knowledge, which now only discusses the expiration [date] and the palliatives that, if one applies them diligently, can slightly delay it. Such a science can only accompany to destruction a world that has produced it and has it, but is forced to do so with open eyes. It thus shows, to a caricatural degree, the uselessness of knowledge without use.(...)

A society that is always sicker, but always stronger, has everywhere concretely re-created the world as the environment and decor of its illness, a sick planet. A society that still hasn't become homogenous and that isn't determined by itself, but is always more determined by a part of itself that places itself above the rest and is exterior to it, has developed a movement that dominates natures but isn't itself dominated. By its own movement, capitalism has finally provided the proof that it can no longer develop the productive forces; and that this isn't [simply] quantitative, as many have believed to understand, but qualitative.

Meanwhile, for bourgeois thought, methodologically, only the quantiative is serious, measurable, effective; and the qualitative is only the uncertain, subjective or artistic decoration of the real, which is estimated by its true weight. Here is what we, capitalism and us, have ended up demonstrating.

Clare Leighton
Realist Prints and Drawings
the Ben and Beatrice Goldstein Collection


Delirious Dubai
Lebbeus Woods

Dubai is certainly the inevitable place for the realization of Koolhaas’ ideas. It is by now the capital of an economic and political New World Order. A city-state without income taxes, labor laws, or elections, it is ruled by a corporate oligarchy of hereditary rulers, accountable only to themselves and their investors. Quite a model for the global future. Built up rapidly over the past few years on the wealth gotten from the world’s greed for oil—and more recently as an unregulated sanctuary for cash—it has no depth of history or indigenous culture, no complexity, no conflicts, no questions about itself, no doubts, in short, nothing to stand in the way of its being shaped into the ultimate neo-liberal Utopia.

Given the tabula rasa the site offers, and the apparently unlimited finances its owners possess, we might ask: is this the best vision for the future that the architect could come up with?—a gratuitious look backward at the ultimate 20th century city, rather than an imaginative look forward to the possibilities of the 21st century city.

What, for example, are the space-organization possibilities of networks of information exchange, rather than streets? What are the architectural design possibilities of synthetics, rather than steel or concrete building frames typical of high-rise construction? What are the possibilities for increasing choices in non-hierarchically organized urban spaces, rather than classical, Cartesian systems? And so on—the list of new possibilities is long.

Maybe Koolhaas doesn’t believe that Dubai is the place for a forward-looking vision. Or maybe he believes, true to his post-Modernist roots, that the past offers the best model for the future, if it is leavened with irony, and garnished with a dash of the surreal. Or maybe he simply doesn’t have a vision for the future. Who knows? We should care, however, because the world’s attention is focused on Dubai, and on Koolhaas and other architecture stars, and because—like it or not—what they do is taken as a model for the future, even when it is, how shall I say, not nearly good enough.

City on the Gulf:
Koolhaas Lays Out a Grand Urban Experiment in Dubai

Fear and Money in Dubai [PDF]
Mike Davis


L'Archive du Mal
Kiefer at Waggish


Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0
First Monday
Volume 13, Number 3 - 3 March 2008

via if:book


Thanks to archive : s0metim3s for the following:

darkmatter - 2-Race/Matter

A materialist turn in the humanities and social sciences has revitalized work in feminism, science and technology studies, critical social theory and phenomenology. Nonetheless, we want to ask what’s at stake when ‘race’ is grasped from a materialist standpoint? Is the focus on materiality able to track and unravel the manifold neo-racisms of contemporary globalization? Does it supersede the limitations of social constructionist accounts of race? And could a materialist ontology of race transform and invigorate anti-racist praxis?
  dimitris papadopoulos and sanjay sharma

Mute Vol 2 #7 - Show Invisibles? Migration / Data / Work
We are living through an intensification of citizens’, and non-citizens’, visibility to capital. Database convergence, states of emergency and points-based immigration systems destroy the legal and informational grey zones in which the poor shelter and organise. As black economies and shadow sectors are exposed to the light of networked information in the interests of population management, border enforcement, welfare clamp-downs and, above all, profit, what are the risks and advantages of visibility? What do (political and artistic) representation and rights have to offer the illegal and ‘invisible’?

Sarai Reader 07: Frontiers
Frontiers considers limits, edges, borders and margins of all kinds as the sites for declarations, occasions for conversation, arguments, debates, recounting and reflection. Our book suggests that you consider the frontier as the skin of our time and our world, and we invite you to get under the skin of contemporary experience in order to generate a series of crucial (and frequently unsettling) narrative and analytical possibilities.

(Twilight of the West)
Anselm Kiefer
b. 8 March 1945


Noon rings out. A wasp, making an ominous sound, a sound akin to a klaxon or a tocsin, flits about. Augustus, who has had a bad night, sits up blinking and purblind. Oh what was that word (is his thought) that ran through my brain all night, that idiotic word that, hard as I'd try to pun it down, was always just an inch or two out of my grasp - fowl or foul or Vow or Voyal? - a word which, by association, brought into play an incongruous mass and magma of nouns, idioms, slogans and sayings, a confusing, amorphous outpouring which I sought in vain to control or turn off but which wound around my mind a whirlwind of a cord, a whiplash of a cord, a cord that would split again and again, would knit again and again, of words without communication or any possibility of combination, words without pronunciation, signification or transcription but out of which, notwithstanding, was brought forth a flux, a continuous, compact and lucid flow: an intuition, a vacillating frisson of illumination as if caught in a flash of lightning or in a mist abruptly rising to unshroud an obvious sign - but a sign, alas, that would last an instant only to vanish for good.
excerpt from "A Void"
Georges Perec
translated e - lessly by Gilbert Adair

Georges Perec
March 7, 1936 - March 3, 1982

Reading Georges Perec
Warren Motte
Georges Perec is perhaps best described as a literary experimentalist, one who was intrigued by the question of form. He produced a score of major works, each one quite different from the others. Although he is best known for his novels, he also wrote plays, poetry, essays, filmscripts, opera librettos, and many other texts which confound traditional generic categories. "My ambition as a writer," he explained to an interviewer in 1978, "would be to traverse all of contemporary literature, without ever feeling that I am retracing my own steps or returning to beaten ground, and to write everything that someone today can possibly write." He once suggested that his work was animated by four major concerns: a passion for the apparently trivial details of everyday life, an impulse toward confession and autobiography, a will toward formal innovation, and a desire to tell engaging, absorbing stories. Anyone wishing to read Perec today may consider those four concerns as paths that may be followed through his otherwise labyrinthine oeuvre--and indeed I shall walk them here, revisiting briefly certain texts that seem to me exemplary of Perec's literary vision.

Writing Under Constraint
special issue and thread at the Electronic BookReview


l'Inconnue de la Seine

A figure that disturbs me, since I have met her too, but during the day, diurnal and spectral. Messenger of Melancholy, so similar to the apparition evoked by Henry James in The Turn of the Screw, motionless like a woman conscious of her guilt, slighjtly turned away so that we can escape from the memory of our own guilt.
A Voice from Elsewhere
Maurice Blanchot
translated by Charlotte Mandell
Influence and authenticity of l'Inconnue de la Seine
Anja Zeidler
In the The Savage God. A Study of Suicide Al Alvarez writes: "I am told that a whole generation of German girls modelled their looks on her," to add in a note: "I owe this information to Hans Hesse of the University of Sussex. He suggested that the Inconnue became the erotic ideal of the period, as Bardot was for the 1950s. He thinks that German actresses like Elisabeth Bergner modeled themselves on her. She was finally displaced as a paradigm by Greta Garbo."

Nerves and Narratives
A Cultural History of Hysteria in 19th-Century British Prose
P. Melville Logan

A new body appeared in Britain in the late eighteenth century, one marked by its susceptibility to hysteria and a host of related nervous conditions, variously called hypochondria, spleen, vapours, lowness of spirits, melancholia, bile, excess sensibility, or, simply, nerves. These complaints were not themselves new; they had previously been the exclusive province of the English aristocracy. But their appearance as an epidemic in the middle class of the late Georgian years reflected a new set of assumptions about the bodies of speculators, traders, and businessmen and their wives, daughters, and servants. As a consequence, nervous disorders such as hysteria became the leading category of illness, accounting for two-thirds of all disease, and the new middle-class nervous body was viewed with considerable alarm.(...)

Nerves and Narratives is an archaeology of that nervous body and its implicit social critique. In particular, this study focuses on one of the central characteristics of the nervous body: its tendency to talk, especially to talk about itself. The nervous patient spoke incessantly about her or his body, its pains and sufferings, and its history. As Part 1 discusses, this body’s tendency to narrate the story of its nervous condition was itself a sign of the condition. Thus, this association of nerves and narrative makes problematic the narratives of social criticism in the period that depend on a nervous narrator to testify from personal experience to the injustice of society.(...)

What happens when that nervous body tells its story?

Part of eScholarship Editions


Peripheral Vision, Traces and Immersive Landscapes
Anatole Pierre Fuksas looks at the work of Timothy Atherton

The Ecology of the Novel
A Book-in-Progress by Anatole Pierre Fuksas


Anselm Kiefer

East/West German Border
The Lost Border
Photographs of the Iron Curtain

Brian Rose


Some Wars Are Silent
Chris Mansell

some wars are silent
there are no bridges
the mist falls to the ground
and the songs of the missing
have long died    the country
mimes its history the eucalypt
the water the mountain
stand alone    there is
no afternoon where
flesh comes together
where the stories
of the ten thousand years
comes    where the clapstick
sings out    here history
is silent and the wars
are not acknowledged
we are deprived of heroes
fools and lessons    our history
settles on the grass
like an old man sitting down
some wars are silent
and there are no bridges 

War Papers (2)
Big Bridge

Katie Kingma


A figure that disturbs me, since I have met her too, but during the day, diurnal and spectral. Messenger of Melancholy, so similar to the apparition evoked by Henry James in The Turn of the Screw, motionless like a woman conscious of her guilt, slighjtly turned away so that we can escape from the memory of our own guilt.

It can be seen that the iconoclasts, who are often accused of despising and denying images, were in fact the ones who accorded them their actual worth, unlike the iconolaters, who saw in them only reflections and were content to venerate God at one remove. But the converse can also be said, namely that the iconolaters possesed the most modern and adventurous minds, since, underneath the idea of the apparition of God in the mirror of images, they already enacted his death and his disappearance in the epiphany of his representations (which they perhaps knew no longer represented anything, and that they were purely a game, but that this was precisely the greatest game — knowing also that it is dangerous to unmask images, since they dissimulate the fact that there is nothing behind them).
  -  Jean Baudrillard, June 20, 1929 - March 6, 2007     Simulacra and Simulations

Jean Baudrillard at ctheory


By Force of Mourning
Jacques Derrida
Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas

download here

In the era of psychoanalysis, we all of course speak, and we can always go on speaking, about the "successful" work of mourning-or, inversely, as if it were precisely the contrary, about a "melancholia" that would signal the failure of such work. But if we are to follow Louis Marin, here comes a work without force, a work that would have to work at renouncing force, its own force, a work that would have to work at failure, and thus at mourning and getting over force, a work working at its own unproductivity, absolutely, working to absolve or to absolve itself of whatever might be absolute about "force," and thus of something like "force" itself: "a work of mourning of the absolute of 'force,"' says Louis Marin, keeping the word "force" between quotation marks that just won't let go. It is a question of the absolute renunciation of the absolute of force, of the absolute of force in its impossibility and unavoidability; both at once, as inaccessible as it is ineluctable.


...the powers of the image lead back perhaps in the last resort to this power, to the force of an image that must be protected from every ontology. It would have to be protected from such ontologies because it itself, in truth, protects itself from them; it begins, and this is precisely the force of its force, by tearing itself away from an ontological tradition of the question "what is?" Marin recalls already in the introduction to his book that this tradition itself tended to consider the image as a lesser being, that is, as a being without power, or as a weaker and inferior being, a being of little power, of little force. To submit the image to the question "what is?" would thus already be to miss the image and its force, the image in its force, which has to do perhaps not with what it is or is not, with the fact that it is not or does not have much being, but with the fact that its logic or rather its dynamic, its dynamzs, the dynasty of its force, will not submit to an onto-logic: its dynamo-logic would no longer be, it would have never been, a logic of being, an ontology. Or rather, to come at it from the other direction, which actually makes more sense: the ontological order (that is, philosophy) w~ould have been constituted as such for not knowing the powers of the image: for not knowing or denying them, in the double sense of this "for," that is, because it did not take them into account, but also for mistaking them, with a vzew to doing so, so as to oppose them, in this most veiled and clandestine war, to the unavowed counterpower of a denial intended to assure an ontological power over the image, over the power of the image, over its dynamis.


Some poems arrive as dreams. Others being from memories. Some start out of the middle of a conversation I’m involved in or words that I overhear other people speaking. An imagination of the life of some historical person may occur to me: I may suddenly suppose I understand what it felt like to be Johannes Brahms on a particular morning of his life. A landscape, a cat, a relative, a friend, a letter (or the act of answering a letter), walking, the unexpected receipt of a new poetry magazine full of work by new young writers, the arrival of a new book of poems by a friend or somebody I don’t know personally; re-reading Shakespeare or reading Emily Dickinson on the streetcar and suddenly moved to tears; shopping for vegetables, making love, looking at pictures, taking dope, sitting still and looking at whatever is happening in front of me, getting haircut, being afraid of everybody and everything, hating everybody, playing music, going to parties, visiting relatives, riding in trains, buses, taxis, steamboats, riding horses, getting drunk, dancing, praying, practicing mediation, singing, rolling on the floor, losing my temper, looking for agates, arguing, washing sox, teaching, sweeping the floor, operating this typewriter right now (bought in Berkeley 12 years ago and wrote ten books on it) which the cicadas and taxis all sing in ravening hot Japanese summer 1967 . . . all this is how to write, all this is where poems are to be found. Writing them is a delight.

  - Philip Whalen

Philip Whalen
1923 - 2002

On The Publication of Philip Whalen's Collected Poems
Edited by Dale Smith


The Brain, within its Groove
Runs evenly—and true—
But let a Splinter swerve—
'Twere easier for You—

To put a Current back—
When Floods have slit the Hills—
And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves—
And trodden out the Mills—

    Emily Dickinson


        On Dreams
        An Imitation Of Petronius
        Jonathan Swift


        The drowsy tyrant, by his minions led,
        To regal rage devotes some patriot's head.
        With equal terrors, not with equal guilt,
        The murderer dreams of all the blood he spilt.

        The soldier smiling hears the widow's cries,
        And stabs the son before the mother's eyes.
        With like remorse his brother of the trade,
        The butcher, fells the lamb beneath his blade.

        The statesman rakes the town to find a plot,
        And dreams of forfeitures by treason got.
        Nor less Tom-t--d-man, of true statesman mould,
        Collects the city filth in search of gold.

        Orphans around his bed the lawyer sees,
        And takes the plaintiff's and defendant's fees.
        His fellow pick-purse, watching for a job,
        Fancies his fingers in the cully's fob.


        The hireling senator of modern days
        Bedaubs the guilty great with nauseous praise:
        And Dick, the scavenger, with equal grace
        Flirts from his cart the mud in Walpole's face.

    The Poems of Jonathan Swift
    Volume 1 and Volume 2
    project gutenberg

The Cost of a Week in Hell
Tom Engelhardt and William Hartung

One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion

Interactivist Info Exchange
A Project of Interactivist.net and Autonomedia.org
Back in business


Even a dog knows you can't erase something once it's flowed on the internet.
Better Than Free
Kevin Kelly
The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times. IT companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. Every bit of data ever produced on any computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free.

Yet the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies? I have an answer.



A new online audio journal, textsound.org is like eavesdropping on an extraterrestrial jukebox! We are dedicated to presenting innovative poetry and all manner of avant-play that can find it's way inside an audio file!

via Crag Hill


Brian Rose

In the Mountains
Josef Hoflehner


Anne Waldman


Here's one we missed...
The original manuscripts
were understandably fragile
But in the dream you are in the
Library of Congress or Yale's Beineke
& you are younger, bearded, hooded
a terrorist for language,
beautiful thief of rare text
How do you get the transmission
in paper a tide across time,
how do you pass muster
in your aggression versus
erudition's good will
Did you simply breeze by a librarian?
Homo homini lupus is a strange motto
How true is it? How brutal?

War Crime
Anne Waldman
Crime's the way you walk the way you talk crime's the way you get away with it not seeing arrogance, narcissism my god & all his prowess on my side. What mastermind of machinery to make sure suffering is not yet death, not enough to die without the torture chamber's cry. The crime is in the pudding in the picture, on any screen that will play. Drama of infrared music, you want to shout in the disco before you tumble, night after night you are not in control with your signal of error with your signals of terror with your action deferred with your faulty warning system. You are not in control with your pilot warning rhizome with your human bomb attuned to readings in philosophy. Nietzsche could still rule your mind not hope of loving a virgin not to be confused with the word raisin. In heaven: raisins. Raison d'etre, to be greeted by virgins who are like the raisins in heaven. Crotches, nipples of Sweet fruit? This is not a fine-tuned translation. But never going on your nerve underestimate the mind of a revolutionary man, a revolutionary one. Anarchy is sweet revenge and you get what you want, this act of "faith": war.(...)

Question: you are convincing me to join and serve. Serving is not a virgin heaven.

So waiting for the curfew I put my head-covering on to beg. The sanitation trucks disturb the sleep of the homeless on the sidewalk. Someone shines a bright light on a city street. Crime is on the street again. War is in every headline. Once when I was an American I felt the pulse of war to be light, an allegorical dream that sent a chill down my narrative spine. It was telling a story. This vertebra was on fire with the explosion of my birth, this one came later when he died, flag on the coffin, this one resorted to being on a map of mountain terrain. There was no cave I could lend you in this body. It was surface, all surface.

Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action
Anne Waldman, Lisa Birman

In the Room of Never Grieve: New and Selected Poems, 1985-2003
Anne Waldman

Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment 2004
Anne Waldman and Ed Bowes

Anne Waldman: Standing Corporeally in One’s Time
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Anne Waldman’s work in poetry exists at the intersection of activist passion, gender critique and wariness, and long poem ambitions. She is at root inspired by an Olsonic ambition to speak the whole social fabric as an incantatory, analytic cantor in shamanic voice. She is someone who can inhabit her own culture and play among a multiple of global sites with Blakean transformative lust. She calls us to account whenever she takes the witness stand: “Will some future generation look upon the ravages of the planet and the perpetuation of suffering by the powerful over the weak as a Second Holocaust? And see that no one attempted to stop the madness?” Thus she stands corporeally in her time, in Ernst Bloch’s phrase. Many of her poetic works present illuminating political outrage about the continuing crisis of failed social justice across the world. She flays power with words, ignoring or disdaining voices that say such gestures are impossible.
Anne Waldman feature in Jacket

Anne Waldman at Penn Sound


The Questioner of the Sphinx
Elihu Vedder


Supernatural Sounds and Enlightenment Silence
Christopher Grasso reviews Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment by Leigh Eric Schmidt

The modern Questioner still asks, but Vedder's sphinx is blank and silent. For Leigh Eric Schmidt, in his fascinating new book, Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment, Vedder's stark vision of spiritual alienation is emblematic of "the oracular silences that had descended upon some modern listeners" (130). Enlightenment science and modern rationality re-tuned the ear, nullifying what were once considered to be the voices of oracles, angels, or God as trickery or madness. But that is only half of the story, for even in today's secular America millions still claim to hear divine voices and supernatural sounds. Schmidt's book traces the complex relationship of these two historical processes: how modern science disciplined aural perception, and how popular spiritual practices that place a premium on spiritual "hearing" persisted nonetheless.

A Preface to Silence:
On the Duty of Vigilant Critique Norman K. Swazo

Shmuel, the chronicler: Memory...everything is in memory.
Moshe, the madman: Silence...everything is in silence.
   --  Elie Wiesel, The Oath

...philosophy is perhaps the reassurance given against the
anguish of being mad at the point of greatest proximity to madness.
   --  Jacques Derrida, "Cogito and the History of Madness," Writing and Difference

...it is wiser not to trust entirely to anything by which we have once been deceived.
   --  Descartes, "First Meditation," Meditations on First Philosophy


So, we must consider: what is the duty of vigilant critique insofar as it speaks at the juncture of philosophical and political responsibility? It is the duty of speech which delivers into the present its memory, links present and past, and indicts the present after the indictments of the past and the judgments of memory. But one feels compelled to ask: Is this strategy not to be rejected in principle? Is it not to be rejected even with regard to consequences, with regard to a judgment of historical efficacy? Must we forever "cling to our shame" and so hold the future hostage to our ressentiment? To speak the name is to call forth the thing -- to utter the demon’s name is to call forth the demon. Such is the admonition of ancestral tradition. To name is to convey from non-being to being: male dictus, male dictus. . .

Speech, in its essential structure, is apophantic, as Aristotle already pointed out in his On Interpretation. Speech, as Heidegger reminds us in echo of Aristotle, "lets us see," "makes manifest what is being talked about," and thus "makes it accessible to another" (see Being and Time, Ch. II, Section 7B). To name, then, is to call out "into the distance," to call the temporally afar "into nearness." Such calling brings into nearness. To bring into nearness, to "bridge," is not to bring into presence-at-hand, granted. Yet, such calling ever remains an oblique invitation, a bidding to come, such that what is called thereby has bearing, i.e., bears upon us in our presence.47 In this bearing, a world is borne by the word; thus, the word "gathers a world," unfolds and discloses it in the manner of its bearing. That gathering of world, as a disclosure of a "referential totality," can be a benign gathering. It can also be a gathering of malignity: Some bridges are better left unbuilt.


After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops' books
Resolved the world. We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so . And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.

   -   Wallace Stevens, from Connoisseur of Chaos


Stones and Clouds
Iceland, 2005
Josef Hoflehner


The Castalian Spring
Denise Riley

Could I try on that song of my sociologised self? Its
Long angry flounce, tuned to piping self-sorrow, flopped
Lax in my gullet – ‘But we’re all bufo bufo’, I sobbed –
Suddenly charmed by community – ‘all warty we are’.
Low booms from the blackness welled up like dark liquid
Of ‘wart’ Ich auf Dich.’ One Love was pulsed out from our
Isolate throats, concertina’ed in common; ‘Du mit Mir’ was
A comforting wheeze of old buffers, all coupled, one breed.

But then I heard others, odd pockets of sound; why wouldn’t these
Claim me to chant in their choir? As I grew lonelier I got philosophical,
Piped up this line: ‘Don’t fall for paradox, to lie choked in its coils
While your years sidle by.’ Some hooted reproachfully out of the dawn
‘Don’t you stifle us with your egotist’s narrative or go soft on “sameness”,
We’ll plait our own wildly elaborate patterns’ – they bristled like movies
By Kurosawa. By then I’d reflated, abandoned my toadhood, had pulled on
My usual skin like old nylons. I drifted to Delphi, I’d a temple to see.

Poems Denise Riley

Knowing in the real world
Denise Riley

The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony
Denise Riley

... the sotto voce laments for regretted beauty I have outlined here are clichés of feeling. Their tone is formulaic, sentimental, complacent, swathed in the nostalgia emerging from the effort to envisage oneself as one once was, an effort driven by our will to be flattered. As descriptions of how their speakers actually were, their truth value is at best shaky. But these ordinary utterances are, above all, linguistic structures of feeling. As such, their effectiveness rests on their apparent weaknesses, their bagginess and their porosity; these allow them to be open to everyone. Through their looseness their usefulness can emerge: that imprecision and inelegance which actually “speak volumes” in fostering the ability of the merely implied to become the perfectly understood, and in admitting the deep intelligibility of the not-said.
  - Denise Riley, "'What I Want Back is What I Was' - Consolation's Retrospect"
archive : s0metim3s has liberated some more quotes from Diacritics

Boone County Historical Society


From Odes: 15 [“Nothing”]
Basil Bunting

substance utters or time
stills and restrains
joins design and

supple measure deftly
as thought’s intricate polyphonic
score dovetails with the tread
sensuous things
keep in our consciousness.

Celebrate man’s craft
and the word spoken in shapeless night, the
sharp tool paring away
waste and the forms
cut out of mystery!

When taut string’s note
passes ears’ reach or red rays or violet
fade, strong over unseen
forces the word
ranks and enumerates...

mimes clouds condensed
and hewn hills and bristling forests,
steadfast corn in its season
and the seasons
in their due array,

life of man’s own body
and death...
The sound thins into melody,
discourse narrowing, craft
failing, design
petering out.

Ears heavy to breeze of speech and
thud of the ictus.

Basil Bunting
3 March 1900 - 17 April 1985

The Basil Bunting Poetry Centre

Complete Poems By Basil Bunting

Chomei at Toyama and Villon by Basil Bunting

Introduction to Basil Bunting's Complete Poems
Richard Caddel
Read these poems aloud: Bunting's central statement on poetry, as significant today as it was when first published in 1966, is that "poetry, like music, is to be heard." As a statement, this has been picked over, carped at, qualified and explained away by critics ever since, so that it's worth restating it here, in its original, radical essence:
"Poetry, like music, is to be heard. It deals in sound - long sounds and short sounds, heavy beats and light beats, the tone relations of vowels, the relations of consonants to one another . . . Reading in silence is the source of half the misconceptions that have caused the public to distrust poetry."
Such a conviction was deeply rooted in his upbringing and development, and was the product of a lifetime's practical experience.
"Buffalo 1963: Reading"
Basil Bunting
Audio at the Slought Foundation


Gregory Crewdson at Aperture

via Jörg Colberg


A new issue of Big Bridge

An Anthology of Bay Area Women Writers
Edited by Katherine Hastings

Memory Is Pictures Inside You

rivers coursing through before language
the way Moonlight whimpered as he watched
the movie in his sleep. Something
is happening, his four legs are following
the story line. One part of the brain works
as a camera, taking pictures, another part
puts it together. Edits. Which part
is the soul? O Tower of Babel, whoever is
the Self? We can't remember
everything, we can't forget anything

Poems by Sharon Doubiago


Further Explorations of War Resistance Poetry in Public Spaces
Philip Metres

Poetry, in many ways, and through its many minions, has refused to roll over and keep dreaming. It has bolted upright, and gotten out of bed—that is, off the page—and into other spaces where people don't usually expect to find it. In the conclusion to my book-length investigation of war resistance poetry, Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront Since 1941, I returned to a persistent motif—a post-Gutenbergian call to see poetry breathe outside of the confines of the book, and for us to see poetry freed into the third dimension of public spaces: "war resistance poems thus ask for our redeployment in multiple sites, returning poetry to where it thrives—at the local and in local resistance [i.e. "behind the lines" and beyond the page and into the public square]—as graffiti, in pamphlets, as performances, as songs, and in the classroom" . This poetry invites us
to pose further questions not only about the limits of the individualized poem, but also about the individualized poet, and propose ways that poets and activists might work to find ways of making poetry "active" again, and making activism a labor of making as much as a labor of protest and unmasking. Thus, the survival of war resistance poetry depends not just on the aesthetic value of the poems, but also on what these poems offer as cultural productions. War resistance poets attempt to address both the converted and unconverted, to praise the committed and also to hail the unconverted, inviting them to partake in this collective subjectivity of resistance.
    ("Poetry and the Peace Movement: Useable Pasts, Multiple Futures")
Though books clearly can be liberatory sites for poetry—as they have been for so many readers of poetry over the centuries—the culture of poetry, in our post-Gutenbergian age, remained mostly a culture of the book only, to the detriment of poetry's vital relationship to orality, to performance, to bodily instrumentation.
Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking

Resisting Panic, Resisting Forgetting
Alejandro de Acosta

Call it another strategy for resisting forgetting or creating resistant counter-memory. Call it the forging of a public space under difficult circumstances! For those far from the academic milieu, believe me: it is not so easy to find a space to gather and talk openly in. This not only compounds but is directly linked to the exclusion of poor and disadvantaged folks from this space. My friends and I needed very badly to do our resistant thinking in a public and shared space, to carry what had been private, personalized, and thus almost necessarily sort of paranoid and alienated talking into a public space where it could be transformed in dialogue with others.

Resisting forgetting and resisting panic. In both cases it’s about maintaining our priorities as anarchists or anti-authoritarian thinkers and activists. It is a matter of living in resistance to the nation and the state; not confusing its priorities with ours. As always, this is a matter of resisting the spread of fear that comes from both directions – the state’s war machine, and the terroristic war machine that has perhaps escaped the state, but which bears the marks of its contact with the state. It is also a matter of making our non-allegiance to those entities or processes visible, communicable, public: on the air, in the street, in any space that opens or is opened for political discussions.

In this time of shutting down of political pluralism, in this time of the apparent vanishing of all religions except dueling monotheisms, it seems ever more important to insist on other politics, other religions, other cultures, and other ways of life, which continue to struggle and resist as living alternatives. In so far as we live these alternatives, or can communicate with them (though there is nothing easy about this communication), we resist the flows of stupidity that the state relies on for its distribution of sadness and identities. When I move in public, I try to embody this pluralistic outlook. That it has become more difficult does not make me want to do it any less – to the contrary.


There Is
Guillaume Apolinaire
translated by Michael Benedikt


There is this inkwell which I've made from a 150 mm shell I 
	saved from shooting
There is my calvary saddle left out in the rain
There are all these rivers blasted off their courses which will 
	never go back to their banks
There is the god of Love who leads me on so sweetly
There is this German prisoner carrying his machine-gun across 
	his shoulders
There are men on earth who've never fought in the war
There are Hindus here who look with astonishment on the 
	occidental style of campaign
They meditate gravely upon those who've left this place 
	wondering whether they'll ever see them again
Knowing as they do what great progress we've made during this 
	particular war in the art of invisibility

via Al Filreis


Gregory Crewdson at Aperture


Adam Golaski
translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
unfolding at Open Letters Monthly
1 2 3
All his features followed fully in form but
Wonder at his hue men had,
set in his assembled scene;
His features as freakish as his fashion
as over all, he was achingly green.
This gomen, man’v games, green’nd garbed in green,
a coat, green, which constricted his middle,
a merry mantel, green, graciously w/in
w/ a trim’v valuable green, a garment pure’nd clean
w/ a bright, bright, brightly black’nd white hood
drawn down from his locks’nd laid about his shoulders;
him’n well-heeled hose of that same green,
cut close to th’calf. He wore spurs’v pure’nd bright,
bright gold, + rich silk borders braided full;
+ at the length’v’is legs, w/out shoe th’man rode;
All, all his vesture truly;

Open Letters
one-year anniversary issue

Roy Andrews
ca. 1911
Roy C. Andrews Collection
Historical Photograph Collections


The Ignorant Schoolmaster [PDF]
five lessons in intellectual emancipation
Jacques Rancière
translated by Kristin Ross

download here


Pierre Joris: Three Poems and an Interview

3 Pages from Canto Diurno #4: The Tang Extending from the Blade
Pierre Joris

The shell of the underground “information place” that will eventually house
an instructive, if harrowing mass of documents is nearly ready.
The outwork serves life, which happens specifically not there,
as otherwise we all would clearly not be in the middle of it, in its fullness,
in the fullness of human life, and it serves to observe
of life, which always happens elsewhere.
It is easy to slow that process with daily strokes on a honing steel

Regenerative Diaspora
Pierre Joris
...we ... are the inheritors of two opposed visions: on one hand, that of, say, Shelley and Whitman, Neruda and Ginsberg, for whom poetry was in some, and often in large, measure a means of protesting social injustice, and from whom we have inherited a believe in the possible efficacy of the poem to do just that – the poet as unacknowledged legislator, the poet as guide, as shamanic propagandist for a better world. On the other hand we are also the inheritors of Mallarmé – and his sense that “poetry makes nothing happen” as a sticker I was handed some time back proclaims. As Alain Badiou recently phrased it, Mallarmé gave the 20th century another figure, that of the “poet as secret, active exception, as the custodian of lost thought. The poet is the protector, in language, of a forgotten opening… the poet, ignored, stands guard against perdition.” Which often leads to an ahistorical or nostalgic aestheticism. But of course Mallarmé also gave us huge breakthroughs in poetic form and in that sense renewing and revitalizing poetry for the last century. So what we need for this new century is a poetry that combines the advances of those two figures, the poet as avant-gardista and the poet as custodian. A difficult dance, to be sure.

Gary Snyder, Smokey the Bear, Avalokitesvara and other Bodhisattvas
Bent Sørensen

Gary Snyder on Ecology and Poetry

1 2 3 4


Kurt Julian Weill
(March 2, 1900 – April 3, 1950)


Very Contemporary, Goya
Robert Gibbons

... we can sure as Hell name names now Wolfowitz Rumsfeld Cheney Bush sexually repressed executioners gagging & blindfolding knees of victims always bent down in forced allegiance to power's ignorant bloodlust you nameless victims Goya depicts quickly in pain & horror so very contemporary, Goya!


The Meaning of Normalcy
Prince Harry of Afghanistan
Faheem Hussain

"It's very nice to be a sort of normal person for once, I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get."
  Prince Harry on his time in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
The BBC reported these words with approval. It's nice to know that this is what is considered normal for a young man in the UK. I guess it is normal to send 23 year olds to join an illegal occupation army. It is normal to call in air strikes (this was Harry's job) to drop 1000-pound bombs on villages killing and destroying men, women, children, animals. It is normal to go on foot patrol in an occupied country and look down with contempt on the poor people of the country and it is normal to feel the hatred emanating from the people of the occupied country.

I am sure that Prince Harry feels terribly elated and uplifted by his 10 weeks in Helmand where he did his duty in the great Western "humanitarian" enterprise to spread democracy and bring development to Afghanistan. Did he ever wonder why NATO is losing the war in Afghanistan? Did he ever wonder why the resistance is getting popular support? Did he ever think of why opium production in Afghanistan has reached record levels since the US and NATO occupied the country? Did he ever look at the suppressed women in burkas and wonder what happened to all the promises of "liberating women" which was one of the so-called humanitarian reasons given by the US for attacking Afghanistan? Or was he there just to have a "normal" time with the blokes, kick around a football, have a couple of beers, try to push start an abandoned motorbike and have a fun time interspersed with calling in air strikes to kill a few more Afghans?


Director: René Clair
Script: Francis Picabia, René Clair
Cast: Jean Börlin, Inge Frïss, Francis Picabia,
Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Darius Milhaud,
Erik Satie, Mamy
Runtime: 22 min; B&W; silent

thanks to John Coulthart


Obama, McCain, March 19
Mickey Z

The state of global affairs has long passed the proverbial tipping point and is more likely flirting with the dreaded point of no return. Yet most folks, it seems, have confused the occasional weekend parade, I mean, protest with a full-blown movement.

The War on Terror and the Terror of War
Brent Bowden

The dichotomy between the civilized, uniformed, chivalrous combatant and the opportunistic, treacherous barbarian is a false one. Perhaps there is something in the argument that all people, fundamentally 'good' people included, are capable of doing bad or evil acts given certain circumstances. Just as 'bad' people are capable of random acts of kindness.

As Immanuel Kant reminds us in Perpetual Peace, 'even some philosophers have praised it [war] as an ennoblement of humanity, forgetting the pronouncement of the Greek who said, "War is an evil inasmuch as it produces more wicked men than it takes away"'. We would also do well to take note of Walter Benjamin's poignantly made point that 'there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism'. As with every other war that has been or will ever be fought, no belligerent has a monopoly on the barbarism and terror of war. The war on terror is no exception.


War is a church.
Memory is a church on fire.
War and the idea of war
Will eat the tomorrow out of our bones.
   (culled from "The Sin Eaters" by Sherman Alexie)

from "October 27, 2003"
Etel Adnan
Translated from the French by C. Dickson

come, come! a jasmine sprig behind the ear
is from some declining twilight
they would rather speak no more
of human matters. but then stones
are not much better.(...)

it's nice being here in discontinuity, the
dwelling place of birds, and being aware that
the world's nations feed on plunder: armed with
this disillusion; we can bring ourselves to
bear the unbearable

The Groves of Lebanon
Words Without Borders - March 2008

René Clair

René Clair


The 'guinea-pigging' of vast swathes of the population has, up till now, solved two problems: the 'time' problem (namely, how to avoid addressing the underlying reasons for mental health problems), and how to create new markets amidst the flourishing of generic drug production, particularly outside of the US and Europe. Clearly the interiorisation of unhappiness is far more profitable than the outward realisation that perhaps misery has nothing to do with you personally and everything to do with the world in which you live.
  -  infinite thØught

Materialism of the Other
Spurious on Levinas and Blanchot
'No human or interhuman relationship can be enacted outside of an economy; no face can be approached with empty hands and closed home'. The circulation which seems to be permitted by a domestic space (Levinas calls this economy) is broken by the relation to the Other. The space into which I am welcomed becomes immediately a space of hospitality. Note that hospitality bears upon what my dwelling has allowed me to make into a possession - it is a giving of what I have wrested from the element. Hospitality has a material content. As Blanchot writes in another context, reflecting, no doubt, upon his reading of Levinas:
Materialism: 'my own' would perhaps be of little account, since it is appropriation or egoism; but the materialism of others - their hunger, their thirst, their desire - is the truth of materialism, its importance.
I am never allowed to tend complacently to my own hunger, my own thirst; my desires are, from this point no longer my own, since they come from without. Although I may indeed decide to follow only those desires I take to be mine, this is a movement of reaction. Appropriation and egoism have already been challenged; the hunger of the Other - his thirst, his desire - has already laid claim to me in dwelling.
Great is Hungering


Lamentation over the
Discovery of an Empty Beacon
Somewhere in Middle America
Colin Blakely


The Three Trillion Dollar War:
Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Economist Linda Bilmes on the True Cost of the US Invasion and Occupation of Iraq


Terrorized by 'War on Terror'
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America
Zbigniew Brzezinski


The Quay Lembour
Raymond Queneau
Translated by Rachel Galvin

At the end of quai d’Austerlitz
someone shouts: you’ve lost her, Liszt
at the end of quai de Béthune
drift the notes of an old bay tune
at the end of the quai called Anjou
a nasty guy will shortchange you
at the end of quai d’Horloge
you’ll shiver without food or lodge
at the end of quai Arouet-Voltaire
wandering pigeons vault air
at the end of quai de Passy
sing A or B but not past C
at the end of the quai du Point-du-Jour
at the end of decay?
at the end of decay?


Typology: A Phenomenology of Early Typewriters
Richard Polt

I ask you to try to reach the type, the eidos of a typewriter through imagination. ...(...)

Strange as it seems to us today, all the most successful machines up to 1900 were understrokes, or as their detractors called them, "blind writers." All these decisions had serious consequences for the nature of the activity of typing. Here we should not be misled by the fact that the final product produced on all these machines would look similar (though not identical). Even if the results are similar, the activities can be very different. Typing on a big understroke with a double keyboard, like the Caligraph, is not the same as typing on a portable with three rows of keys, like the Blickensderfer, which produces immediately visible writing and uses interchangeable typewheels.

It comes down to the feel of these machines. Typing on the Caligraph feels like a formal, controlled affair meant to produce a carefully engineered document. Typing on the Blick feels like a spontaneous, experimental activity that shouldn't be taken too seriously.


Learning the Trees
Howard Nemerov
February 29, 1920 - July 5, 1991


Still, pedetemtim as Lucretious says,
Little by little, you do start to learn;
And learn as well, maybe, what language does
And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with
Experience while cooperating with
Experience, and keeping an obstinate
Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it.

And think also how funny knowledge is:
You may succeed in learning many trees
And calling off their names as you go by,
But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov

The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov


EBK Jansen


Children of Light
Robert Lowell
1 March 1917 - September 12, 1977

Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen's bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva's night,
They planted here the Serpent's seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.


Landscapes of Presence
Jerry Takigawa


  	Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme--
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter's vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All's misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun's illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Robert Lowell


lantern slide
The Gertrude Bass Warner collection
University of Oregon Libraries