wood s lot      may 16 - 31, 2008

(Accouche! Accouchez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)

Walt Whitman
May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892

Carol of Words

EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons,
animals—all these are words to be said;
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings,
premonitions, lispings of the future,
Behold! these are vast words to be said.

Were you thinking that those were the
words—those upright lines? those curves, angles,
No, those are not the words—the substantial
words are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.

Were you thinking that those were the
words—those delicious sounds out of your friends’
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

Human bodies are words, myriads of words;
In the best poems re-appears the body, man’s or
woman’s, well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or
the need of shame.

Leaves of Grass


how to exploit oneself and get away with it
infinite thØught

We do not need to accept all the arguments for so-called immaterial labour in the work of Lazzarato, Hardt & Negri, Virno, et al., to think that there might be something at stake in the argument that 'waged labor and direct subjugation (to organization) no longer constitute the principal form of the contractual relationship between capitalist and worker' as Lazzarato puts it, or that 'post-Fordist "professionality" does not correspond to any precise profession. It consists rather of certain character traits' as Virno claims. ( ... ) ... it is not of course the case that labour has disappeared into an idealist puff of excitable smoke, but it has certainly become more difficult to work out where exploitation begins and ends (the 9-5 working day bleeding into emails from the boss, taking work home at the weekends, out of hours calls). The service sector is certainly run in the main on those character traits that Virno mentions, and the exploitation of basic forms of sociability and linguistic capacity, but it is also not entirely removed from modes of Taylorism, and the old idea that 'you are not paid to think', as Steve Wright reminds us. In fact, the generally rather impoverished forms of service one receives in the UK compared, say, to the ubiquitous forced (if effective) charm of the US is a mark in its favour – an acknowledgment that actually, no, this is not 'fun', this is work. And it is boring and long and badly paid. Don't have a nice day.

Pain and Conscience
Charles Sullivan on Revolution

Effective protest causes economic and political disruption. It persists until the just demands of the people are met. The established orthodoxy feels pain and discomfort from it; it feels a palpable threat and understands that the injustice cannot continue. Either it addresses the demands of the people, or it perishes. This is a manifestation of democracy. It is serious stuff that requires enormous sacrifice from those who protest in this way. The Montgomery bus boycott of the 60s was that kind of protest; and it was a protest that was won by the people, despite a constant threat of violence and death.

These days few people are willing to put anything tangible on the line. One wonders: Is there anything that the American people are willing to fight and die for? Is there anything real that we really believe in? Or do we relish the symbols of freedom more than we love freedom itself?

American exceptionalism is fostered in all of our social and political institutions. This includes the educational system and religious institutions. Thus, these beliefs are continually reinforced from cradle to grave, and never more so than in the corporate media. So it is not surprising that our political leaders behave as if they were endowed with the powers of deities, even though they are nothing more than fallible human beings like everyone else. It requires enormous hubris for anyone to adopt such doctrines, but there appears to be an inexhaustible supply of hubris in this country and a paucity of humility and compassion. Those who think in this way are prone to behaving toward the world with vitriol, as we witness daily.


Robert Scheer on “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America”

U.S. Soldiers Launch Campaign to Convert Iraqis to Christianity


Kids In America(n Torture Camps)
Why Does the Media Cover Up War Crimes?
Ted Rall

It's a tale bizarre enough to make Rush Limbaugh blush: intelligence agents from communist China invited to an American military base, where they're allowed to torture political dissidents in American custody, with American soldiers as their sidekicks. In light of China's crackdown on Tibet during the run-up to the Olympics, it's a tasty news tidbit. But it didn't run in The Times--as far as I can tell, it only ran in one newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor.

Revenge of the Mutt People
Joe Bageant

... as all non-whites the world round understand, white people can be mean. Especially if they feel threatened -- and they feel threatened about everything these days. But when you provide certain species of white mutt people with the right incentives, such as free pork or approval from god and government, you get things like lynchings, Fallujah, the Birmingham bombers and Abu Ghraib.(....)

We the mutt faced sons and daughters of the republic. Born to kick your chicken breast meat to death for you in the darkest, most dismal corners of our great land, born to kill and be killed in stock car races, drunken domestic rows, and of course in the desert dusty back streets at the edges of the empire. Middle class urban liberals may never claim us as brothers, much less willing servants, but as they say in prison, we are your meat. We do your bidding. Your refusal to admit that we do your dirty work for you, not to mention the international smackdowns and muggings for the republic -- from which you benefit more materially than we ever will -- makes it no less true.


Nicolas Poussin
(1594 – 1665)

Looking at Poussin
Rachel Cohen

"Read the story and the painting," Nicolas Poussin wrote in 1639 to his friend and patron Chantelou, "in order to see how each thing is proper to its subject." How to think about that—I've been puzzling to myself these last three years (....)

"Lisez," Poussin commanded. What would that be, to read a painting? How would it feel in the mind?

Jan. 28, 1918
Tending 'Defiant Gardens' During Wartime
Ketzel Levine

Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime
Kenneth Helphand


Where Is the Outrage?
Robert Scheer

Are we Americans truly savages or merely tone-deaf in matters of morality, and therefore more guilty of terminal indifference than venality? It’s a question demanding an answer in response to the publication of the detailed 370-page report on U.S. complicity in torture, issued last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Because the report was widely cited in the media and easily accessed as a pdf file on the Internet, it is fair to assume that those of our citizens who remain ignorant of the extent of their government’s commitment to torture as an official policy have made a choice not to be informed. A less appealing conclusion would be that they are aware of the heinous acts fully authorized by our president but conclude that such barbarism is not inconsistent with that American way of life that we celebrate.

But that troubling assessment of moral indifference is contradicted by the scores of law enforcement officers, mostly from the FBI, who were so appalled by what they observed as routine official practice in the treatment of prisoners by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo that they risked their careers to officially complain. A few brave souls from the FBI even compiled a “war crimes file,” suggesting the unthinkable — that we might come to be judged as guilty by the standard we have imposed on others.


Juan Genovés

1 2 3 4


They Began to Call You
Coral Bracho
Translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander

They began to call you, the rocks, breathing,
their innumerable visages, their gesticulant
from the cliff face. You could see
the entrance of the cave and you knew. Totems
fusing together. One
respiration over another. It’s for you. And what could it
have been?
And what would they have won from you and for what?
But you didn’t enter, only
stood there taking it in.

They Began to Call You and Other Poems
Coral Bracho
Translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander

Open Studios:
Rachel Blau Duplessis's Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work
Catherine Taylor

An essay's swerve can make the trip. First sky. Then the waves. Sky. The edge of the water. Sudden breathless teeming immersion. Then sky again and pray you're not becalmed since the doldrums are an exploration's true danger. Rachel Blau Duplessis's striking new collection of essays, Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work, is at its best when it is roving at a clip, when she's doing what she says "interesting essays" do, "offering knowledge in passionate and cunning intersections of material, in ways excessive, unsummarizable, and (oddly, gloriously) comforting by virtue of their intransigent embeddedness and their desire, waywardly, to riffle and roam" (37). Duplessis's is a poetics both of the riffle and of the riff, where an ecstatic, disordering, referential page-flipping and a musical, utopic cat's-paw play with literary and linguistic surface effects long to disrupt more deeply embedded ideological structures, primarily those of gender. Whether readers will find Duplessis's essays "comforting" will depend on their finding comfort in some discomfort, particularly in her challenges to familiar forms of subjectivity and writing.

‘An Uncanny and Unstable Aura of Resistance’
Andrew Mossin reviews Blue Studios and the Work of Poetry
Rachel Blau DuPlessis


When Were We Creole?
Michael Malouf reviews Creolization: History, Ethnography, Theory, Charles Stewart, ed.

Ever since James Clifford declared in 1988 that "we are all Caribbeans now living in our urban archipelagoes" there has been a rise in the theoretical cachet of creolization as a term that-- along with its synonyms hybridity and transculturation--might explain the cultural diversity that has emerged with globalization. What distinguishes Clifford's quote is its use of the Caribbean as a site whose experiences might be generalized as a universal concept. The utopian impulse behind Clifford's phrase appears as a leitmotif in the essays edited by Charles Stewart in Creolization: History, Ethnography, Theory which admirably seeks to rescue this term from its status as an epigram and recover its analytical force by turning to its origins in linguistic, anthropological, and historical theories and methodologies. While this interdisciplinary collection does not offer a single definitive interpretation of creolization, it does represent a shared concern with the specific question of what happens when a term that is meant to be descriptive becomes prescriptive. Using Clifford Geertz's terms, they ask how and why scholars collapse a model of into a model for.

The Wise
Countee Cullen

Dead men are wisest, for they know
How far the roots of flowers go,
How long a seed must rot to grow.

Dead men alone bear frost and rain
On throbless heart and heatless brain,
And feel no stir of joy or pain.

Dead men alone are satiate;
They sleep and dream and have no weight,
To curb their rest, of love or hate.

Strange, men should flee their company,
Or think me strange who long to be
Wrapped in their cool immunity.

Countee Cullen
(March 30, 1903 - January 9, 1946)
Memorial to Countee Cullen
Merideth Bergmann

"The Singing Man Who Must be Reckoned With":
Private Desire and Public Responsibility in the Poetry of Countee Cullen
Peter Powers

In choosing the poetry of Christian ethics, Cullen gradually gave up on being the sexualized Pan who is the "singing Man to be reckoned with." But in doing so, he complicated the reading of a man who was a failure to his race. Indeed, what is clearest in this reading of public responsibility versus private desire is that Cullen was a poet who--when he could not find a way to reconcile his private desires--tried to sacrifice them in order to be the public "Voice of the Harlem Renaissance." Rather than abandoning race, in "The Black Christ," he abandons desire and embraces a particular notion of race in the figure of the mother who tells the legends and litanies of the people, a figure of heterosexual reproduction that Cullen tried briefly to embody in his marriage to Yolande Du Bois, a figure of generational passage and biological inheritance upon which notions of race must in some fundamental sense rely. In embracing his role as "THE New Negro," Cullen tried, in the complicated and sometimes noble tradition of Christian self-renunciation, to sacrifice desire in order to be canonized as a saint.

Most cities are ectomorphic; Ganzoneer is the consummate endomorph.
Urban Planning:
Case Study the Fifth
Tim Horvath
Remember that YOU are mostly water yourself, and thus that the polymer-based proprietary hydropolylipidinous compounds that comprise most of the city's architecture are hardly alien to your own anatomical makeup. In fact, you are more like Ganzoneer by far than you are like Paris, Delagotha, New York, or Raedmeon, (unless you are a cement-, metal-, and glass-based sentient creature. In which case, Welcome, Cement-, Metal-, and Glass-based Sentient Creature!). Become, then, more like what you are—where other cities, even those tropical ones beneath lolling fronds, offer up hard corners, horizontals and verticals at every turn, the resistance of straight edges, Ganzoneer offers you naught but embraces, caresses, bouncy jubilant TRULY TROPICAL moments.

Ganzoneer: Become More Like What You Are."


Anastasia Cazabon

via Conscientious


Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy
Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel, editors
Reviewed by Susan Kisilevich


The Ambivalent Reporter
The Journalism of Karl Kraus
Joshua Cohen reviews The Anti-Journalist: Karl Kraus and Jewish Self-Fashioning in Fin-de-Siècle Europe by Paul Reitter


New at EPC - author pages for Tony Towle and Jonathan Williams


Nicolas de Staël


A reminder -

All four episodes of John Berger's Ways of Seeing appear to be still up at youtube. Click Opera has the links and this comment:

I actually find it rather disturbing that -- despite our claims to be a culture that's increasing freedom of choice all the time -- we haven't come up with anything quite as astute, subversive or beautiful as Ways of Seeing since. Not on the BBC, and not even -- especially not -- on the internet. Download it while you still can.

Chairs at Margate
László Moholy-Nagy


A Small History of Photography
Walter Benjamin

The camera is getting smaller and smaller, ever readier to capture fleeting and secret moments whose images paralyze the associative mechanisms in the beholder. This is where the caption comes in, whereby photography turns all life's relationships into literature; and without which all constructivist photography must remain arrested in the approximate. Not for nothing have [Eugène] Atget's photographs been likened to the scene of a crime. But is not every square inch of our cities the scene of a crime? Every passerby a culprit? Is it not the task of the photographer -- descendant of the augurs and haruspices -- to reveal guilt and to point out the guilty in his pictures? "The illiteracy of the future," someone* has said, "will be ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography." But must not a photographer who cannot read his own pictures be no less counted as illiterate?
* the "someone" was László Moholy-Nagy according to this footnote:
(5.) The famous phrase, "The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the pen and the camera alike" is Moholy's. It has gained its considerable currency mainly by way of its paraphrasing --without attribution -- in Walter Benjamin's celebrated "Kunswerk" essay of 1936. Moholy's observation, originally in English, was written in 1932 and first published in "A New Instrument of Vision," Telehor (Brno) I, 1-2, Feb. 28 1936, 34-365 (Reprinted Kostelanetz, ed., Moholy-Nagy, [London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1970], p. 54).
in In Focus: Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
Nancy Roth

thanks to Helquin Artifacts

The Author as Producer
Walter Benjamin


Culture and Politics in Carl Schmitt
special issue of Telos
Spring 2008, Issue 142

via Continental Philosophy


Seyeon Yun

via Heading East


Mi cárcel es azul

My cell is azure
over it run man-o’-war birds
cirrostratus rapidly revolving
down the line
what color
is your cell?

Eight poems from the manuscript «Lingua Franca»
Omar Pérez
translated by Kristin Dykstra
Selections from «Heard about the fighting cat?» (Poems 1994–1998)
Omar Pérez
translated by Kristin Dykstra

Poetry Cured of Poetry
Omar Pérez in conversation with Kent Johnson

Feature: Omar Pérez
Jacket 35


Artaud on Youtube

parts 1 2 3 4

La coquille (seashell) et le clergyman (1926)
the film by Artaud and Germaine Dulac


Are we still free to try and resist the ocular (optic or optoelectronic) inundation by looking away or wearing sunglasses? Not out of modesty or because of some religious taboo, but out of a concern to preserve one's integrity, one's freedom on conscience.
   - Paul Virilio (Open Sky 96)
Paul Virilio and the Mediation of Perception and Technology
David Beard and Joshua Gunn
... it is clear that scholars in rhetorical studies require some consideration of the relationship between modes or logics of perception and technologies of representation. In an era where technologies change faster than we can describe them, and the experience of the user under these technologies changes faster than we can theorize, we need a body of theory that can guide our investigations into this terrain. This is the terrain of contemporary communication, and we cannot pretend that rhetorical theories that efface differences in media are adequate. If the rhetoric and sociology of science can only serve as a partial guide, and film theory is too bound to its own disciplinary structure to be appropriated easily, then rhetoricians interested in media technology must look elsewhere, To that end, this essay reviews the work of Paul Virilio as a source of a general theory of media technologies and the logics of perception.

Truth and consequences
Lee Siegel

The real danger confronting criticism on the web is that, in the name of "anti-elitism" and "the voice of the people", real dissent (which looks elitist because it is rare) will be drowned out by posturing mobs. So the question is not whither the authority of the critic, but whither the power of resistance that the best criticism represents? And what happens when established critics who take on established taste start trying to please their detractors, in order to save themselves?(....)

Tired of being labelled an elitist, weary of being bullied, but most of all angry at being insulted as a "douchebag", "asshole", "fraud" and, finally, "paedophile", I implored my editors to edit or delete the worst attacks. Delighted by the ruckus and all the online traffic, they refused. So, after attacking what I described as my readers' "thuggish anonymity" under my own name, on my blog and in print, and after enraging the entire blogosphere by coining the term "blogofascism" to describe the quality of the discourse I was experiencing, I decided to get silly. I decided to give thuggish anonymity a taste of thuggish anonymity.

Crossing over to the other side, to the anonymous world of the hitherto silenced and repressed, had a peculiar effect on me.

via Jörg Colberg


‘Candy Land’
Traverse City MI.
Suyeon Yun


Conversations Below Sea Level: Geert Lovink
founding director of the Amsterdam-based Institute of Network Cultures
interview by Ulises Mejias

UM: But aren’t masses on their way to becoming smart mobs, with the help of these social network technologies?

GL: The one thing you can say is that media events are creating these temporary masses, but they are mass manufactured, in fact. A lot of the social protests we see these days already have this extreme temporality, a complete lack of any sustainable structure. That’s a given of political life today, that these movements and these events come up very quickly, a lot of people gather, and then they fall apart. We’ve seen that happening in “real” life, in cities, but we’ve seen that happening on the Internet as well. Very rapid growth and disintegration of these structures, sometimes even within days. Short lived, but large.

UM: And useful? GL: Well, they can have an impact, indeed. So useful, yes, but sometimes without enduring consequences.


Walker Percy
(May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990)

The Walker Percy Project

Walker Percy: Resources on the Web

A memorable night. The only difficulty was that though the universe had been disposed of, I myself was left over. There I lay in my hotel room with my search over yet still obliged to draw one breath and then the next. But now I have undertaken a different kind of search, a horizontal search. As a consequence, what takes place in my room is less important. What is important is what I shall find when I leave my room and wander in the neighborhood. Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.    -   Percy, The Moviegoer

Giving the sickness a name:
Reading Timothy Findley's Headhunter and Walker Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome as diagnostic fictions
Jeoffrey S Bull

"Ineffable Sociabilities":
Criss-Crossing, Game-Playing, and Sight-Seeing with Walker Percy in His Delta
Robert W Rudnicki

Surviving His Own Bad Habits
An interview with Walker Percy

Neurobiology and Psychoanalysis in the Work of Walker Percy
Lewis Lawson

The United States of Dixieland:
Corporatism, Jesus, and the Death Genes
Phil Rockstroh

Our tragedy: This drive, this eternal appetite that forces life to its zenith, but instead delivers it to dust. This is what Walker Percy wrote of that internal landscape:
“Death in the form of death genes shall not prevail over me, for death genes are one thing but it is something else to name the death genes and know them and stand over against them and dare them. I am different from my death genes and therefore not subject to them. My father had the same death genes but he feared them and did not name them and thought he could roar out old Route 66 and stay ahead of them or grab me and be pals or play Brahms and keep them, the death genes, happy, so he fell prey to them.”
Yet this variety of tragic consanguinity is not limited to the doomed hinterlands, for it rules the order of the present day as well. The Death Genes lord over the American empire. Accordingly, an empire destroys nearly everything it touches, because, after a time, it begins to exist for no other reason other than to perpetuate its own existence. Within it, its subjects’ lives lose meaning and purpose: meaningless work, petty ambition, and endless appetite define the days, resulting in a decimated (internal as well as external) landscape -- the hollowed-out lives of its populous -- and the concomitant death cult convergence of religious fundamentalism and habitual consumerism that follow.

California or Bust
June 22nd, 1953

Unfiltered 20th Century Light

I am unwinding moments of the past of strangers, a sort of time lapse telescope turned on by our ancestors at the moments they thought would be worth preserving, the cheap moments of vacation, newborns, high-school assignments, military processions, and holidays. These are their voices, their fascinations, their affections, their decisions that family members discarded to garage and estate sales and ebay. A new home movie from the 1920's to the 1980's will be posted each day. Welcome to the 20th century.

Utah Phillips interview
democracy now
January 2004

The long memory is the most radical idea in America. That long memory has been taken away from us. Listen, you young people I’m talking to, that long member has been taken away from you. You haven’t gotten it in your schools. You’re not getting it on your television. You’re not getting it anywhere. You’re being leapfrogged from one crisis to the next. You know, you can’t remember what happened last week, because you’re locked into this week’s crisis.

No, turn that off. You know, walk away from that. Walk out your front door. Go find your elders. Go find your true elders. Go find your people that lived that life, who knew that life and who know that history. And get your hands down into that deep rich stream of our people’s history. We divided our culture up into a market for youngers, a market for young adults, a market for young marrieds, a market for older people, you know. It’s not that way. And mass media contributed to that by taking the great movements that we’ve been through and trivializing important events.

Utah Phillips links
assembled by Sheila Lennon

empty baseball field
a dandelion seed floats through
the strike zone
village ball game
through knotholes in the old fence
evening sunbeams
George Swede
quoted in Mary Karr's review of "Baseball Haiku: American and Japanese Haiku and Senryu on Baseball," edited with translations by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura.


Italian Hours
Katherine E. Young

All travel’s exile, the shedding
of self, a losing and finding,
the possessing of new things. Past
is present — in gondola rides
through fetid canals, light, water,
air shared with Campanile loons

proclaiming “Republic!” too late,
or too soon — in encounters with
selves left standing at the crossroads,
with ghosts asking after Dante
in accents unknown to the shades
who frequent the Baptistery….

Katherine E. Young - Bright Nostalgia: Poems for Osip Mandelstam

Fantasies of the Autobiographical Self: [PDF]
Thomas Bernhard, Raymond Federman, Samuel Beckett
Alfred Hornung

The recent autobiographical writings of Thomas Bernhard, Raymond Federman and Samuel Beckett elucidate the paradox of the autobiographical form, i.e., its nostalgia for and its denial of coherence, which correspond to the paradox of modern experience, the nostalgia for a lost presence.2 Although Bernhard, Federman and Beckett are known individually, it might be worthwhile to point out their interconnections, which eventually will permit us to speak of a common autobiographical trend in contemporary American and European fiction. (...)

Despite the limitations of the autobiographical mode, its search for continuity and stability in a world of discontinuity and fragmentation, it adequately corresponds with real-life experience, which is always open yet eventually doomed to die. Nevertheless, the autobiographical form allows Bernhard, Federman and Beckett to fantasize different versions of a self as the other which will eventually contribute to a better understanding of ourselves; for the fantasies actually intensify our awareness of the surrounding world and our position in it. While critically rejecting the myth-making elements inherent in the autobiographical mode, they employ the cognitive structure of those fantasies for an expansion of knowledge and for the latent belief in a principle of hope in an otherwise despairing world.


Haruki Murakami's Meaningful Metaphors
Scott Esposito

... in a Murakami novel people construct these fictions and live by them. "On the whole, I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions," says the narrator of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. "More often than not I've observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things."

These convenient fictions are extensions of the stories that we tell ourselves every day. Something happens to us, and as we recount the memory we turn it into a narrative. We then tell our friends about it and the narrative mutates a bit. Eventually after we've discussed it enough, the narrative has taken on a final form, and we regard it as a the truth.

Does it matter if a narrative is factually correct so long as it works as an explanation? I believe Murakami would say yes. He'd say, it's the difference between a sign and a symbol.


John Barth
b. May 27, 1930

CLICK?" So (sans question mark) reads the computer monitor when, in time, "Fred" and "Irma" haul themselves out of bed, wash up a bit, slip back into their undies, and -- still nuzzling, patting, chuckling, sighing -- go to check their E-mail on Fred's already booted-up machine. Just that single uppercase imperative verb or sound-noun floating midscreen, where normally the desktop would appear, with its icons of their several files: HERS, HIS, SYSTEM, APPLICATIONS, FINANCES, HOUSE STUFF, INTERNET, and ETC (their catchall file). Surprised Irma, having pressed a key to disperse the screen-saver program and repeated aloud the word that oddly then appeared, calls Fred over to check it out, but the house cybercoach is as puzzled thereby as she. Since the thing's onscreen, however, and framed in a bordered box, they take it to be a command or an invitation -- anyhow an option button, like SAVE or CANCEL, not merely the name of the sound that their computer mouse makes when ... well, when clicked.(...) The Marquise Went Out at Five (La Marquise sortit à cinq heures) is the title of a 1961 novel by the French writer Claude Mauriac and a refrain in the Chilean novelist José Donoso's 1984 opus Casa de Campo (A House in the Country). The line comes from the French poet and critic Paul Valéry, who remarked in effect that he could never write a novel because of the arbitrariness, the vertiginous contingency, of such a "prosaic" but inescapable opening line as, say, "The Marquise went out at five" -- for the rigorous M. Valéry, a paralyzing toe-dip into what might be called the hypertextuality of everyday life.(...)

Not too fast there, Mark. Not too slow there, Val. That's got it, guys; that's got it ... (so "CNG" [= I/you/eachandallofus] encourages them from the hyperspatial wings, until agile Valerie lifts one [long] [lithe] [cinnamon-tan] leg up and with her [left] [great] toe gives the Mac's master switch a .......... (more)

Three Stories
John Barth


Bruce Cockburn

Happy Birthday

The Cockburn Project


Colonial Canada Now. Part One
Robin Mathews

In the case of the U.S. master, the use of Canadian military material for rogue use is, by careful policy, disguised by both Canadian and U.S. governments. "Canadian" weaponry is killing U.S. "enemies" as I write.

The terrifying aspect of the situation is that it creates a huge and powerful profit-making War Industry in Canada which works tirelessly for the support, in Canada, of U.S. military, expansionist policy around the world.

While all that proceeds as normal, the Canadian forces kept from Iraq are at war for the U.S.A. in Afghanistan. That distant, exotic, tribal, primitive (?) land borders on Iran, upon which the U.S. has military designs. It borders on Pakistan, U.S. "friend". It borders on the oil producing countries adjacent to Russia - Turkmenistan and the others, upon which the U.S. also has a covetous eye. It borders on China (chief antagonist of U.S. imperial power).

Canada's refusal to commit troops to Iraq, choosing, instead, Afghanistan, was a triumph of colonial sleight-of-hand. There, the propagandized pursuit of education for children and women's freedom masks a cold, deliberate and murderous imperial policy. One ridiculous face of the policy is the face of top Canadian general Rick Hillier. Touted in major Canadian press and media, and described as being daringly in conflict with his political superiors - in support of the "ordinary" soldier - Hillier is a blatant lackey and flack for U.S. military policy energetically supported by the Stephen Harper colonials.

A favourite of U.S. forces when he was in the U.S.A., Hillier mirrors (perversely) the falsified "reality" of U.S. military leaders. A cross between a "blood and guts" U.S. general and a thinly disguised sham from one of T.C. Haliburton's tales of Sam Slick (the slippery Yankee salesman) Hillier is permitted (indeed encouraged) by the major press and media to vamp and ogle and posture and pontificate and preen as a maker of military policy for Canada.


Cadence, Country, Silence: Writing in Colonial Space
Dennis Lee

Most of my time as a poet is spent listening into a luminous tumble, a sort of taut cascade. I call it "cadence." If I withdraw from immediate contact with things around me, I can sense it churning, flickering, thrumming, locating things in more shapely relation to one another. It feels continuous, though I may spend days on end without noticing it.(....)

I take my vocation to consist of listening into this energy—for a time it was like the fusion of a burnished cello with a raunchy sax, but lately there have been organ and flute as well—I take my vocation to consist of listening into cadence with enough life concentration that it can become words through me if it chooses.


Dorothea Lange
(May 25, 1895 – October 11, 1965)


The Reckoning
Theodore Roethke
(May 25, 1908 - August 1, 1963)

All profits disappear: the gain
Of ease, the hoarded, secret sum;
And now grim digits of old pain
Return to litter up our home.

We hunt the cause of ruin, add,
Subtract, and put ourselves in pawn;
For all our scratching on the pad,
We cannot trace the error down.

What we are seeking is a fare
One way, a chance to be secure:
The lack that keeps us what we are,
The penny that usurps the poor.

Human Sacrifice Is a Thoroughly Modern Phenomenon
Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Those who look at globalization in purely economic terms have not understood it. Today, nothing is left that can remain separate from it, neither religion nor science, neither culture nor technology, not to mention consumerism and the media. Which is why its costs are counted everywhere, in every sphere.(....)

As there are probably hundreds of thousands of human bombs in this world, their violence is likely to accompany us throughout the 21st century. What we are witnessing now is the globalization of another of our species' ancient customs: human sacrifice.


Lake Sortedam
Christen Købke
1810 - 1848


The archaic is one of the great inventions of the twentieth century.
    —   Guy Davenport
Petroglyphs in and out of perspective
Charles Lock
Though we no longer demand of a painting that it observe the rules of natural perspective, we still like to retain a perspective in our view of non-perspectival art. While we honor the Trecento altarpiece, and celebrate tribal art, our affirmations are compromised. Altarpieces, crucifixes, totem-poles, masks, all become objects in a museum. The museum is .the meeting-place of all the tendencies of universalist ideology: appropriation, comparison, and objectivity. Any thing is welcome in a museum once it has become an object. And the function of a museum is to preserve the objectivity of the objects it contains, to allow nothing to disturb the absolute cognitive security. That cognitive security, that sense of objects harmlessly arranged to be looked at, I should like to call 'second-order perspective'. We would find it intolerably reactionary if anyone expected a modern painting to 'look like something', or required that its pictorial space be continuous with the space we suppose ourselves to occupy. Yet a museum does make all its disparate contents 'look like' things in a museum; and a bland homogeneity of space is precisely what legitimates acquisition and renders comparisons significant. The very convenience of a museum obscures the fundamental problem that all artefacts are not supposed to be looked at in the same way, and that some artefacts are perhaps not meant to be looked at at all, or if at all, then perhaps not by us. It is the absurdity of even thinking of removing petroglyphs — the entire rock, not the sliced image — to museums for safe-keeping (that is, the safety of the spectator, not the rock) that prompts these reflections.

Calabsh 2008--Imagine-Walcott
Kwame Dawes

Calabash is not an easy audience. Even the “home-boy” Derek Walcott is uncertain. He says that he is nervous. The crowd is noisy before the my interview with him on stage. There is a palpable exciting in hearing Walcott but with Jamaicans it is sometimes hard to distinguish a festive audience of supporters from a mob about to rise up against you unless you know the people. At high noon, Walcott smiling wryly and looking cooler than he claims begins to charm the audience with witty remarks, with a generous outpouring of advice and encouragement for Caribbean writing and a free ranging discussion about film, theater, poetry, song writing, and the landscape. When I ask him what he thinks about when he comes to Jamaica, he says, “I think of my friend the late John Hearne…. It is now as if the landscape is beginning to look like his fiction. He is gone now, but he is still here.”

The Art and Practice of Poetic Translation
Brandon Holmquest

1. The translation should say, as closely as possible, what the original says.
2. The translation should say it, as closely as possible, the way that the original does.
3. The translation of a good foreign-language poem should be a good English poem.
To demonstrate the way these guidelines function in practice, I shall detail my work on one poem. That poem is El general Quiroga va en coche al muerte by Jorge Luis Borges.
General Quiroga Goes Toward Death in a Carriage
By Jorge Luis Borges
Translated from the Spanish by Brandon Holmquest

The floodplain already naked, without a thirst for water
and a moon lost in the cold of dawn
and the country dead of hunger, poor as a spider.

The carriage hammock-swaying, the height of it grumbling;
an emphatic, enormous, funereal song.
Four horses with the mark of death on their darkness
pulled six fearful souls and one brave and sleepless.

a journal of literature in translation, published in print tri-annually and continuously on the internet.

via Green Hill


Dorothea Lange

Utah Phillips
May 15, 1935 - May 23, 2008

A Note From Utah
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dear Friends,


I spent a long time finding my way—couches, floors, big towns, small towns, marginal pay (folk wages). But I found that people seemed to like what I was doing. The folk music family took me in, carried me along, and taught me the value of song far beyond making a living. It taught me that I don’t need wealth, I don’t need power, and I don’t need fame. What I need is friends, and that’s what I found—everywhere—and not just among those on the stage, but among those in front of the stage as well.

Now I can no longer travel and perform; overnight our income vanished. But all of those I had sung for, sung with, or boarded with, hearing about my condition, stepped in and rescued us. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be part of this great caring community that, for the most part, functions close to the ground at a sub-media level, a community that has always cared for its own. We will be forever grateful for your help during this hard time.

The future? I don’t know. But I have songs in a folder I’ve never paid attention to, and songs inside me waiting for me to bring them out. Through all of it, up and down, it’s the song. It’s always been the song.

Love and solidarity,


Utah Phillips & Ani Difranco - Fellow Workers
download link here


Labyrinth in my Atelier
Josef Sudek


Chaos, Mess and Uncertainty: Josef Sudek and Surrealism [PDF]
Vojtech Lahoda


The aim of this essay is to emphasize Sudek's links with surrealism. Between 1924 and 1928 Sudek produced photographs of the interior of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, where he was fascinated by the `atmosphere of things' and their `disorganisation,' as the cathedral was still under restoration. When Sudek's friend, the photographer Jaromír Funke, reviewed these photographs, he stressed the terms `chaos' and `vertigo.' Chaos was a crucial notion for Sudek's apprehension of reality: in chaos, it is possible to find secrets, because it is an endless source of imaginative investigation. Sudek came to the idea of secrets hidden in chaos through his understanding of surrealism in the 1930s. He photographed the surrealist exhibition Poesie 32 (Poetry 32) in Prague in 1932. His close friend, the painter Bed ich Vaní ek, participated in the translation of a number of surrealist texts from French into Czech. Another of Sudek's friends, the Czech painter Emil Filla, could also easily have introduced him to the surrealist movement in Czechoslovakia. This essay also goes on to discuss a selection of surrealist motifs in Sudek's photographs.

Papers of Surrealism


Cornell Capa
April 14, 1918 - May 23, 2008


Eduardo Galeano on Immigration, Latin America, Iraq, Writing – and Soccer

It’s a sad story. A daily sad story. I wonder if our time will be remembered as a period, a terrible period in human history, in which money was free to go and come and come back and go again. But people, not.(....)

I think it’s true when President Bush tells us each day that we are suffering the high risks of being attacked by terrorism. It’s true. And terrorism made the Iraq war, and they perhaps may—today or tomorrow, I don’t know—invade some Latin American country. It’s a tradition of the terrorist, imperialist power in the world. Who knows? We are not safe. You are not safe. Nobody is safe from a possible attack from this machine of war, this big structure we have built—they have built, in a global dimension. This $2,600 million spent each day to kill other people, this machine of killing peoples, devouring the world resources, eating the world resources each day. So this is a terrorist structure indeed, and we are in danger, so President Bush is right, I think. We are suffering a terrorist menace.(....)

... we have citizens of first class, second class, third class, fourth class, and corpses of first class, second, third, fourth. If you can design a proportion of killed people, civilian people killed in the Iraqi war, most of them women and children, in proportion to the U.S. population, it’s a terrifying sifra, numero.(....)

Figure. Half a million. It would make more or less half a million. Can you imagine the scandal? It would take millenniums to forget it. Half a million U.S. people—Americans, as it’s said—most of them women and children, killed by a foreign attack? Iraq invading the United States and killing half a million people here? Millenniums, it would take to forget it. But as they are Iraqis, we read each day in the newspapers, repeating, 30 people killed, 50 people killed, 100 people killed. It turns to be a habit, something normal, as part of nature.


Europe's roots in social justice: the European Idea
Gaither Stewart

Let's have a look at what still distinguishes the USA from Europe. Bernard Chazelle, a computer scientist at Princeton University, writes in his devastating essay, 'Saving The American Left: The Case For A New Progressive Creed': "By virtually any measure, the United States is the least progressive nation in the developed world. It trails most of Western Europe in poverty rates, life expectancy, health care, child care, infant mortality, maternity leaves, paid vacations, public infrastructure, incarceration rates, and environmental laws. The wealth gap in the US has not been so wide since 1929. The Wal-Mart founders' family owns as much as the bottom 120 million Americans combined. Contrary to received opinion, there is now less social mobility in the US than in Canada, France, Germany, and most Scandinavian countries. The European Union attracts more foreign students than the US, including twice as many from China. Its consensus-driven polity, studies indicate, has replaced the American version as the societal model to which the developing world aspires."


The age of working class art is over
John Schooley in a letter to Joe Bageant

I guess my fear is that the age of working class art is over. That there won't be another Woody Guthrie comin' down the pipe.

John Schooley's blog


A Walk in the Magic Garden
circa 1956
Josef Sudek
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Photograph collection online


The End of the Garden
Michal Ajvaz
(Translated by James Naughton)

Kant is of course partly excused by the fact that, as is generally known, he never left Konigsberg (though he speculated whether after our death we would inhabit other heavenly spheres), so that he quite certainly never encountered a Komodo lizard; on the other hand, however, he might surely have devoted at least a couple of lines to a creature as remarkable as the three-metre-long monitor lizard. Maybe this lizard is now pursuing him across the endless empty plains of some other star.

(Here, I think, lies the misfortune of philosophy: always we encounter on our travels some exceptional freak to which the philosophical rules are found to be non-applicable. Which are right - the freaks or the philosophical principles? I once had a lecture on this problem in a lift, inlaid with amber. On the one hand we are somewhat loathe to dispose of the whole thing merely by saying "so much worse for the freaks," on the other we are also reluctant to accept that the whole of our fine system of thought be dependent on some ugly old freak. At the same time we fail to grasp the relativity of the concept of "freakishness" - if there were no human beings with their evaluating criteria, there would be no "freakishness" either - also we ignore the vicious circle of reasoning to which we fall victim: freakish for us is that which falls outside our own sense of order, but simultaneously we proclaim that this breaching of our own sense of order proves nothing against its truth value, since after all we are simply dealing with a freak.)

So I followed this struggle, full of feelings of confusion and ambivalence, until finally I tapped the woman strangling the fretful lizard on the shoulder and said in an uncertain voice: ""Please leave the lizard alone"

Slavonic Studies
School of Modern Languages and Cultures
University of Glasgow


on holiday
Ildi Hermann


Slanguage Dictionary

Now that Variety is being made available to the whole World Wide Web, we offer the following glossary of terms, most of which you're likely to see while scanning this site.

Belated birthday greetings for gmtPlus9(-15)
9 years old

Congratulations and thanks Andrew.

Homage to Max Beckmann
The Forbidden Pictures
A Political Tableau
Larry Fink

1 2 3 4 5


It's not always easy to determine when we have surrendered our judgment to someone else.
Coercion: Why We Listen to What 'They' Say
Douglas Rushkoff
If we stop to think about this invisible hand working on our perceptions and behavior, we can easily become paranoid. Although we cannot always point to the evidence, when we become aware that our actions are being influenced by forces beyond our control--we shop in malls that have been designed by psychologists, and experience the effects of their architecture and color schemes on our purchasing behaviors--we can't help but feel a little edgy. No matter how discreetly camouflaged the coercion, we sense that it's leading us to move and act ever so slightly against our wills. We may not want to admit consciously to ourselves that the floor plan of the shopping center has made us lose our bearings, but we are disoriented all the same. We don't know exactly how to get back to the car, and we will have to walk past twenty more stores before we find an exit.

In order to maintain the illusion of our own authority, we repress the urge to panic. Unfortunately, the more we stifle that little voice telling us we are in danger, the more we repress our ability to resist. We deny what we are feeling, and we disconnect further from what remains of our free will. As a result, we become even better targets for those who would direct our actions.

I was not always predisposed to think this way.

via Dialogic


Sourdough Trail
Stephen Durbin


Manifest Destination
Adrian C. Louis

I crave winter. I want a blizzard
that blinds me to my fellow man.
These are my dark times.
Every other day I grieve for the me
that was and every man or woman
I see fills me with contempt.
Nine out of ten Skins in town are
hang-around-the-fort welfare addicts.
Every weekend their violence
and drunken wretchedness
fills the county jail, but I'm
far beyond embarrassment because
the white people are even worse.
Varied branches of that inbred, toothless
mountain trash in "Deliverance,"
settled here and now own
the bank and most businesses.
It's undeniably true that these
white people in Cowturdville
could be hillbillies except for
the fact that these are The Plains.

Drive on, rednecks, to the edge
of your flat world and fall
down to a better hell.

This country was founded on violence. So its kind of like karma coming back to haunt us, you know. When the Spaniards came into the towns here they killed more Indians than Hitler killed Jews in his ovens. It's a greater holocaust here than there was in Europe during World War II. That's a historical fact. America is a schizophrenic country. On the one hand, it purports to be the peace loving center of the universe. On the other hand, it's got everything it has from violence from taking and taking.
   -  An Adrian C. Louis Interview

Cleveland High School of the Arts
Ohio May 1995
Larry Fink


Blogs, public intellectuals and the academy
Daniel W. Drezner

[T]he growth of online publication venues has stimulated rather than retarded the quality and diversity of public intellectuals. The criticisms levied against these new forms of publishing seem to mirror the flaws that plague the more general critique of current public intellectuals: hindsight bias and conceptual fuzziness. Rather, the growth of blogs and other forms of online writing have partially reversed a trend that many have lamented – what Russell Jacoby labeled the “professionalization and academization” of public intellectuals. In particular, the growth of the blogosphere breaks down – or at least lowers – the barriers erected by a professionalized academy.

Daniel Berrigan: Forty Years After Catonsville
Chris Hedges

The trial of the Catonsville Nine altered resistance to the Vietnam War, moving activists from street protests to repeated acts of civil disobedience, including the burning of draft cards. It also signaled a seismic shift within the Catholic Church, propelling radical priests and nuns led by the Berrigans, Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day to the center of a religiously inspired social movement that challenged not only church and state authority but the myths Americans used to define themselves.

“There is no mistake made by the Soviet Union that was not repeated by the international community here in Afghanistan.
   -  Zamir Kabulov
Outdoing the Soviets in Afghanistan
Who is the Enemy?
Eric Walberg
Given the huge advantages over the Soviet experience, and given the possibility to learn from Soviet mistakes, there really is no excuse for the current tragedy unfolding with no end in sight. But then, in carrying out their invasion of Iraq, the Americans apparently learned nothing from the British invasion of the 1920s, repeating to the letter all the horrors the Brits inflicted on the Iraqis.

Is it possible the chaos and murder is intentional? While the Taliban were no sweethearts, they did completely disarm the nation and wipe out the production of opium. Similarly, while Saddam Hussein would hardly be one’s favourite uncle, he presided over a stable welfare state where its many ethnic groups were at least not blowing each other up. In contrast, the US has destroyed the state structures in both countries, and made both into arms dumps. It has managed to turn the peoples of both countries against each other, with the likely prospect of civil war and disintegration into various malleable statelets. (....)

It is very hard to exaggerate the extent of the abyss that is Afghanistan under US/NATO occupation or to conceive of an honourable exit for the occupiers. Mercenaries, opium and who-knows-what, in a script written in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Paying for War at the Pump
Robert Scheer


Bradford Fuller

Hellen Van Meene

A Conversation with Hellen Van Meene
Jörg Colberg

My smallest photos are 29 by 29cm [11 by 11”], and my larger photos are 39 by 39cm [15 by 15”]. What I really love of these sizes is that when you look at a photo in an exhibition, you have to stand in front of it, and your head is about as big as the photo you're looking at. It also means that when you're looking at the photo only you can look at it at that moment. Another person has to wait until you are done with it.

When you are standing in front of a very large photo, you have a different kind of feeling and relationship with the photo. It is so large that you always share that moment with other people next to you. So there's a different kind of relationship with the photo.

The small photo demands more attention, it demands for you to look more closely so you don't miss a thing.


"There is not so much Life as talk of Life, as a general thing. Had we the first intimation of the Definition of Life, the calmest of us would be Lunatics! "
    -   Emily Dickinson

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 -
Notes on Emily Dickinson's "Terrible Simplicity"
J. S. Porter
Her honesty and sensitivity to the mind's fragilities seem so much more "real" in our time than her contemporary Whitman's braggadocio.

Singleness of purpose. Dickinson penned a single Shakespearean tragedy with one character, herself, with one prop, her brain, and with one theme, terror. The poet, terror-stricken, terrorized; the poem traumatized. The poetry of chills and curdles, which puts on display the recurrent crucifixion of self, the mood-govemed, seesaw self, the fully aware, articulate and terrified self. Pain made into poetry. The poetry of open wounds. The poet retouching the wounds in their verbal and artistic forms so as to gain sovereignty over them, so as to brace for their return. Dickinson as tremulousness and temerity. Her genius is to have combined tremulous feeling with a temerity of expression. A bold, bald brokenness. Destitution and defiance.


"A word is a bridge built between myself and another... a territory shared by addresser and addressee."
    -  Mikhail Bakhtin
Dirty secrets of a translator
George Blecher
Bakhtin might say – I'm sure he does somewhere – that all dialogue is an act of translation. Locked into our tiny Leibnizean monads, we realize ourselves by shaping personal identities out of everything from the sound of our mother's cooing to the clichés of Hollywood films. According to Bakhtin, the creation of individual language – which is really the creation of the self– is an act of willing submission: "One's own discourse is gradually and slowly wrought out of others' words that have been acknowledged and assimilated, and the boundaries between the two are at first scarcely visible."

But how can I translate you?(....)

... the operative metaphor isn't dialogue or architecture, but birth. From the meeting of author and translator, monad to monad, emerges the work, a squirming, squealing collection of ideas, sensations, possibilities: texts and subtexts. One always hopes that the baby will be better than its parents; but whoever it turns out to be, one can be sure that it will be different from both.


Between New York City and Washington DC
Paul Fusco
June 8, 1968

Rfk Funeral Train - Rediscovered

Paul Fusco

via Horses Think


The Silent Epidemic That Is Killing Our Iraq & Afghan War Vets
Shaun Mullen

The psychiatric fallout from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached epidemic proportions, but it is a largely silent epidemic, poking its hydra head into our lives only when a returning vet loses his sh*t and shoots up a convenience store or you notice the flashing lights of an ambulance down your quiet suburban street and see the body of a returning vet on a gurney being wheeled from a garage after he ended it all by sucking automobile exhaust fumes.

The breadth and depth of this epidemic is extraordinary:

The number of suicides from the twin wars may exceed the combat death tolls because of inadequate psychiatric care, although those numbers aren't even being accurately calculated because of VA cover-ups.

Real Clear Numbers: 101,000 U.S. Casualties a Year
Alexander Cockburn

Here's how the figures add up, just for Americans. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have thus far produced 300,000 psychological casualties, 320,000 brain injury casualties, plus 35,000 (probably understated) officially reported "normal" casualties. This adds up to 655,000 US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, an average of just under 101,000 Americans killed or wounded every year since the wars began. If the idea of 101,000 casualties for every extra year in Iraq and Afghanistan gets out and infects the voting public, imagine the effect on the currently torpid national debate over leaving in five years versus fifteen years!

soldier in an alylum
Conrad Felixmuller


1968: The year of two springs
Jacques Rupnik
Translation by Mike Routledge

When, forty years on, the memorable moments of the Prague Spring and the Paris Spring – not forgetting Berlin and Warsaw – are recalled in conferences, debates and publications, there emerges a striking contrast between East and West, to borrow the terminology of those times. In Paris, in commemorations of the May 1968 "psychodrama" (Stanley Hoffmann), the self-congratulation of one generation tends to get mixed up with the desire on the part of the next to claim for itself the legacy of those days in May. They are all the more keen to do so because it has been denounced by a new French president who was ironically described by Daniel Cohn-Bendit as an unwitting soixante-huitard – all Sarkozy is said to have retained of those heady days of May '68 is the celebrated watchword: "enjoy without restraint" (jouir sans entrave[1]). In Prague, meanwhile, people are less inclined to commemorate what was a painful defeat. While Alexander Dubcek was, admittedly, an inspiring figure, he was also a symbol both of shattered hopes and of a surrender that was to herald twenty years of "normalisation".
Part of Eurozine's 1968: Beyond soixante-huit roundup.


Astrid Korntheuer


You know  when you write  poetry  you find
   the architecture    of your lineage     your teachers
like Robert Duncan for me   gave me some glue   for the heart
Beats   which gave confidence
and competition
to the    Images    of Perfection

. . . or as dinner approaches    I become hasty

          Joanne Kyger

The Walk
Albrecht Dürer


Secrecy is a nasty virus that can lay low the body politic
Canada's former Minister of Foreign Affairs Speaks Out
Lloyd Axworthy

The Changing Land
Charlie Meecham
purpose 7
printemps / spring 2008

In this issue, purpose presents the photographs of people hemmed in by borders, populations in precarious situations, adolescents in search of identity, and a woman who cultivates many identities. These photographs, like those that show the urbanism of the city outskirts or the spreading of a city into the countryside, raise poetic and political questions about situations at the margin, moments of transition, "in-betweens."

work by Jean-Luc Moulène, Claude Cahun, Lise Sarfati, Pascal Hausherr, Laurent Malone, Emmanuel Pinard, Ahlam Shibli, Anthony Berthaud, Joakim Eskildsen and Charlie Meecham

via Mrs. Deane


“But seeing, or at least supposing, that there was something which connected Ulm with Vienna, and Vienna with Belgrade, and not wanting to call this something the Danube, that metaphysical, imaginary, hotch-potch of a river, he would arrive at the conclusion that it was he himself who connected Ulm with Belgrade, he the traveler. …But the boat was carried by the Danube, and the Danube by the weight of lived-out lives, that unbearable weight we carry with us, we travelers. That is why the Danube comes before he does. And that is why he sits on the bottom step of the quayside, watching the melon rind float away downstream—if that means anything to anyone.”
     The Glance of Countess Hahn-Hahn
Morgan Meis introduces Péter Esterházy
You could say... that Esterházy has been producing a literature of the nooks and crannies. This is not a small thing. It is a giant thing. It means, simply, (and I hope you take this in its full ethical implication) producing a literature that is on the side of life.(....)

Well, it sure as hell means something to me, and I’m not even a cracked up Mitteleuropan staggering around under all kinds of unbearable weights. But that’s it right there, the joy and the incredible burden, to be a Danube man trying to put history and logic and language and memory back together again. Talking your way through it as best you’re able so that something painful becomes something funny, and also the reverse. That’s also why, I think, Wittgenstein keeps creeping into Esterházy's work when you least expect it. Wittgenstein’s journey is merely the philosophical version of Esterházy's narrative fable. The point is to get to life without losing the thing that makes it lived. In many ways, Wittgenstein’s journey from the Tractatus to the Investigations is a trip to find where language really is. In the beginning he thinks it might be below us or above us, locked away in the secret relationships between words and things. Then he gets older and he realizes it is just right there. And that is what Esterházy is looking for most of the time, a language that is constantly running away from him but that he finds in scraps and fragments like sediment at the bottom of the Danube. Finally, Esterházy and Wittgenstein come to a similar insight: Language is just us being us. It was all so stupid and so great. The trick is in simply remembering how to be. Mitteleuropa took a long scary detour away from the land of us just being us, it is heartening to know that there were a few crazy bastards in their skiffs on the Danube paddling wildly away in the other direction.


Lois Renner
Großes Theater


Mental Illness or Social Sickness?
Susan Rosenthal

Capitalism is a system that requires the majority to have no control over their lives and to believe that this condition is normal. Therefore, all reactions to inequality and deprivation must be viewed as signs of personal inadequacy, biological defect, mental illness - anything other than reasonable responses to unreasonable conditions.(....)

What’s the diagnosis for a sick society? We know what’s wrong. Most people are kept in sick social conditions so that a few can maintain their wealth and power. What is the treatment? Putting human needs first would eliminate most human misery. Who will deliver the medicine? The majority must organize to take collective control of society.

I don’t expect this diagnosis to appear in the DSM anytime soon.


There was a village called Sireen
Samih al-Qasim
translated by Nazih Kassis

People say that there was a village,
but Sireen became an earthquake,
imprisoned by an amulet
as it turned into a banquet -
in which the virgins' infants
were cooked in their mothers' milk
so soldiers and ministers
might eat along with civilisation!

"And the axe is laid at the root of the tree..."
And once again at the root of the tree,
as one dear brother denies another
and existence. Officer of the orbits...
attend, O knight of death,
but don't give in -
death is behind us and also before us.
Knight of death, attend,
there is no time to retreat -
darkness crowds us and now has turned
into a rancid butter,
and the forest too is full,
the serpents of blood have slithered away
and the beaker of our ablution has been
sold to a tourist from California!

From Sadder Than Water: New & Selected Poems by Samih al-Qasim, translated by Nazih Kassis

The Changing Land
Charlie Meecham
purpose 7
printemps / spring 2008


The International Literary Quarterly - Issue 3

heads up from ReadySteadyBlog

Poems by Marjorie Agosín
Translated by Roberta Gordenstein
The Disappeared

The disappeared
took their voices with them
their voices with which they sang
The International
their tongues and languages

We became accustomed to not hearing them
while we searched for them
perhaps secretly
we dreamt that some day
they would be waiting for us at the corner café
or in the schoolyard
as if nothing had happened
because it was a bad dream in some
short story by Borges

With them we also lost the transparency
of objects
the illusion of every day
that it was always the present the moment
the transparency of objects

And so we grew accustomed to filling ourselves with absence

Tarkovsky and Levinas: Cuts, Mirrors, Triangulations [PDF]
Dominic Michael Rainsford

The nature of film is such that it is difficult to feel that one takes it in completely; no sooner is one frame mentally captured than it is succeeded – in a process that could be called ‘jaillissement’ – by another. Film moves too fast for even the cinematographer to be in full control of the things that it throws up (over and above the way in which any kind of text may be uncontrollable by its author). Directors and editors can choose to minimise these characteristics of the medium, manipulating both images and audience so as to create a final sense of semiotic order and unambiguous declaration: such, according to a somewhat sweeping and antagonistic Tarkovsky, was the practice of Eisenstein, who ‘makes thought into a despot’. But Tarkovsky himself does his best to accentuate the life of its own that film, with its density and speed, possesses. And often, as in The Sacrifice, it is the very profusion and inexhaustibility of the sequence of images and the possible implications and offshoots of narrative that give hope to an otherwise generally bleak set of representations of human existence.

Here, then, there is an obvious starting point for the uneasy project of comparing Levinas with Tarkovsky (or indeed with anyone): both make the most of the resources of their respective media to speak distinctively but with a kind of self-undermining. The saying of the philosophical essay of the moment, and the unrolling of time, both in simulacrum and in the real time of the audience, in film, are both held up as somehow redemptive and transcendent in their resistance to reduction and control.

Special Issue
The Occluded Relation: Levinas and Cinema

Publishing open access since 1997

Open Humanities Press


ARTstor, JSTOR, Project Mute and other pay-per-view dispensers turn human knowing into cognitive lap dances.
    - Tom Matrullo


Making Poverty Visible—Three Theses [PDF]
Alexander García Düttmann
Translated by Arne De Boever

Hannah Arendt’s studies and essays on totalitarianism revealed that in the concentration camps of the National Socialists, human life reached a limit that teaches us something about the human being. Giorgio Agamben took up this insight and developed it further in his ethics of bare life.3 Are there indications in Arendt’s work that the human being can approach the limit of human life in other contexts as well? This essay will show that poverty also constitutes such a limit, a wall at which we experience something about the human being, about the possibility and impossibility of a public life.

If the phenomenon of poverty does not fill us with indignation, if we do not feel outraged, resistant, or angry, if we are not carried away by an emotion that has a moral rather than a pathological quality, if we are not struck by an affect that cannot be transmitted in the form of a carefully considered judgment or a rational condemnation, then we do not even know that there is such a thing as poverty. Whoever sees poverty without being filled with moral outrage or indignation actually does not see it. We could conclude from this that the worst poverty would be to not see poverty, to be unable to perceive it or understand it as a “human phenomenon,” because we do not feel “moral indignation,” which either comes about immediately or not at all. For the absence of such indignation “denaturalizes” poverty and “strips” it from its “proper nature.”

Parrhesia: Issue 4, 2008


Christian Schmidt

via Gary Sauer-Thompson


Against science
Stephen Mitchelmore responds to Jonathan Gottschall

Just as Gottschall isn't the first to cede authority to utility and rationalism, Barthes wasn't the first French literary thinker to distance the author from his work. Fourteen years before The Death of the Author, Maurice Blanchot published The Essential Solitude, an essay on the literary work's neutrality.(....)

Power is what Gottschall and the literary bloggers sympathetic to his call remain in thrall to. In their case it is the understandable desire for "relevance", a respected academic career and a book-buying public ready to afford criticism the same market share as popular science. However, for Barthes and Blanchot (and Heidegger before them in Poetry, Language, Thought) the focus remains literature itself.(....)

Barthes, sharing Valéry's optimism, heralds the absence of authorial control as the birth of a new freedom, a new quest for the key to all mythologies. This headline-grabbing opportunism is perhaps what draws attention to Barthes and obscurity to his secret sharer. And it enables Gottschall to present a caricature of his own misreading of Barthes' essay and to believe it is guaranteed by means of extra-literary verification. Even his expression of appreciation for literature - "stories represent our biggest and most preciously varied repository of information about human nature" - indicates a patronising tolerance for literature only as fodder for the mills of science. "Without a robust study of literature there can be no adequate reckoning of the human condition". But in what way is "the human condition" already transfigured by the unnatural force of art? Unfortunately for Gottschall and his Monday-morning optimism, science, like religion, is just another system of expression; a literary genre.

You can read Blanchot's "The Essential Solitude" in The Space of Literature, translated, with an Introduction, by Ann Smock
full text download here

The Death of the Author
Roland Barthes


Christian Schmidt


Pynchon's 'Mason & Dixon,' An 18th Century Musing On All Things
Shaun Mullen


Phil Cubeta at the Gift Hub

Our herd instincts are creating media monopolies.
Beth Coleman, Free Culture, and the Network Effect
Trebor Scholz
Business plans for startups are based on a very low threshold for participation, uploading is made very easy. People contribute videos, blog entries, wall posts, bookmarks, status updates, and photos but none of this material can be exported. An active user becomes more valuable over time, not unlike a bottle of wine in the wine cellar. All those “friends” with whom we reconnect, sometimes after quite some time, and all those media and texts are literally locked up. Try to delete Flickr photos (you’ll have to go one by one; try that with the 2 GB that you just uploaded). Or, try deleting your Facebook (FB) account. You can't. Attempt to export blog entries on MySpace or photos on Facebook. Not accidentally, the export option does not exist. Groups are locked up in these social milieus. Weak-tie-communities are entrapped; it's a corporate confiscation of attention, creativity, and time. Steve Chen, co-founder of Youtube understands how much he owes the "community" when he thanks Youtube users shortly after being acquired by Google for $1.6 billion. Chen: “Thanks to everyone of you guys that have been contributing to YouTube, to the community. We would not be anywhere close to where we are without the help of this community.” Within three years the site had achieved popularity and that user community directly translated into Google stocks.(....)

Yochai Benkler correctly suggests that "peer production is as efficient and significant for the 21 century as the assembly line was for the 20th century." I also agree with Benkler when he suggests that through peer production "people can do more by and for themselves" but I add that the pleasures of online sociality are exploited. Communities are often deceived and commodified. They are unfairly used as a resource, often without their consent and knowledge. It's a bit like Mark Twain's "Whitewashing the Fence" in Tom Sawyer.


Max Oppenheimer
1885 - 1954


'Nixonland' by Rick Perlstein
How one man's strategy to appeal to the disaffected has helped to polarize the nation.
Jim Newton

As the initial setting makes clear, Perlstein is after something other than biography here. And wisely so. The world almost certainly has enough Nixon biographies; few subjects have tantalized writers more than the troubled soul of Yorba Linda's favorite son. Instead, he tells the story of Nixon's America, a country of division and resentment, jealousy and anger, one where politics is brutal and psychological, where victors make the vanquished suffer. Perlstein, who covered some of this ground in "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus," aims here at nothing less than weaving a tapestry of social upheaval. His success is dazzling.

This thesis of the new hatred of democracy can be succinctly put: there is only one good democracy, the one that 'represses' the catastrophe of democratic civilization.
The Hatred of Democracy
Jacques Rancière
trans. Steve Corcoran
Reviewed by Barret Weber
Guided by his denunciation of a limited or repressed sense of democracy, Rancière turns to current debates regarding the U.S. led war in the name of democracy in Iraq and ongoing European interventions in the Middle East. In doing so, he rejects the reigning theoretical definitions of democracy that tend to conflate it with technocracy and oligarchy, authority and obedience. However, the main target of Rancière’s polemics is not the Iraq war, or the ongoing struggles in the Middle East more broadly. Rather, Rancière turns his attention towards French debates on pedagogy and “the School”, to outline, in turn, his own theory of politics, a politics that comes near to the question of “limitless” democracy (as we will see below) in the last two chapters. Because of its ethos of equality, democracy is a politics that founds a constituent power of “heterotopy, the primary limitation of the power of forms of authority that govern the social body”. The limit of authority, in this sense precisely, is democracy.

The reigning presumption about the American experience, as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has written, is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is “better” than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, “The system works.”

Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political impotence pervades the country — a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as “believing the dogma of ‘democracy’ on a superficial public level but not believing it privately.” We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges. Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny.

excerpt from Bill Moyers' new book, "Moyers on Democracy"


Baby on Cucumber Machine
Larry Towell

Eye of the Storm
The quiet force of photographer Larry Towell
Daniel Baird

Towell’s work is above all about seeing: seeing what is there, seeing (or at least glimpsing) what it means to be a person. “We decline the artificiality of invention,” he writes in his introduction to The World from My Front Porch, “in exchange for the privilege of witness and the power of seeing.” And that is surely what the aesthetic of photography — and especially black and white photography, from Paul Strand and Walker Evans to Diane Arbus to the present, with its combination of precision and tactile sumptuousness and intimacy — is all about.

Unlike most contemporary photojournalists, who shoot with high-end digital cameras and print their work with ink and paper, Towell only uses traditional black and white film, whether he is in Gaza, Lebanon, or South Africa, or on his own back porch. “Black and white is still the poetic form of photography,” he says. “Digital is for the moment; black and white is an investment of time and love.” That Towell is concerned with the poetics of photography should come as no surprise. His meticulously realized compositions are saturated with the history of photography and the history of painting.(....)

Although Towell has photographed some of the world’s most violent hotspots, he is by no means a war photographer. “The whole adrenalin world of war photography is white, Western, bourgeois,” he says. “The photographs of the violence are shallow. I’ve been photographing El Salvador for ten years. The newsy photographs are gone, but if you go into things deep, that work will stay.”

Larry Towell at Magnum Photos


The Thing That Eats The Heart
Stanley Kunitz

The thing that eats the heart comes wild with years.
It died last night, or was it wounds before,
But somehow crawls around, inflamed with need,
Jingling its medals at the fang-scratched door.

We were not unprepared: with lamp and book
We sought the wisdom of another age
Until we heard the action of the bolt.
A little wind investigates the page.

No use pretending to the pitch of sleep;
By turnings we are known, our times and dates
Examined in the courts of either/or
While armless griefs mount lewd and headless doubts.

It pounces in the dark, all pity-ripe,
An enemy as soft as tears or cancer,
In whose embrace we fall, as to a sickness
Whose toxins in our cells cry sin and danger.

Hero of crossroads, how shall we defend
This creature-lump whoe charity is art
When its own self turns Christian-cannibal?
The thing that eats the heart is mostly heart.

    from "This Garland, Danger", in Selected Poems: 1928 - 1958

Stanley Kunitz
July 29, 1905 – May 14, 2006

Photo by Marnie Crawford Samuelson


"Through Other Eyes"
An Interview with Nam Le
Luna Park 2

The idea we’ve ascribed to Marilynne Robinson—that plausibility is an aesthetic matter—lies, for me, at the heart of the fictional enterprise. It pushes back against all the assumptions that circumscribe our narrative process. It permits. And, in the case of my own writing, it permits not only (or even chiefly) diversity of geographical setting, but diversity of structure, style, plot, character, mood, voice, etc.

Valparaiso Poetry Review
Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
Spring/Summer 2008

Featured Poet: Lynnell Edwards

Poetry And The Cosmopolitan:
Zbigniew Herbert’s Collected Poems
Jeffrey Frank

Standing Straight In The Sparking Storm:
Lynnell Edwards’ The Highwayman’s Wife
Edward Byrne


Gary Snyder: A Natural Selection
a retrospective review by Edward Byrne


The Paul Blackburn page at the Electronic Poetry Center


Notes Regarding the Editing of Translated Literature
Martin Riker

Translators in Conversation
Nicholas de Lange and Ros Schwartz



Cartographies of Silence
Adrienne Rich
b. May 16, 1929 6.

The scream
of an illegitimate voice

It has ceased to hear itself, therefore
it asks itself

How do I exist?

This was the silence I wanted to break in you
I had questions but you would not answer

I had answers but you could not use them
The is useless to you and perhaps to others


It was an old theme even for me:
Language cannot do everything-

chalk it on the walls where the dead poets
lie in their mausoleums

If at the will of the poet the poem
could turn into a thing

a granite flank laid bare, a lifted head
alight with dew

If it could simply look you in the face
with naked eyeballs, not letting you turn

till you, and I who long to make this thing,
were finally clarified together in its stare


Precisionist Cityscape
Niles Spencer
16 May 1893 - 15 May 1952


The Morality of the Stomach
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
Binoy Kampmark

The Magic of the State
An Interview with Michael Taussig David Levi Strauss

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


A Conference On Contemporary Poetics And Political Antagonism
Presented By Small Press Traffic
MAY 30 & 31, 2008



              The Testing-Tree
              Stanley Kunitz

              In a murderous time
                    the heart breaks and breaks
                          and lives by breaking.
              It is necessary to go
                    through dark and deeper dark
                          and not to turn.
              I am looking for the trail.
                    Where is my testing-tree?
                           Give me back my stones!