wood s lot        june 16 - 30, 2008

Natalia Goncharova

Rachel Barrett

via Shane Lavalette


Psychoanalysis: An Elegy
Jack Spicer

What are you thinking about?

I am thinking of an early summer.
I am thinking of wet hills in the rain
Pouring water. Shedding it
Down empty acres of oak and manzanita
Down to the old green brush tangled in the sun,
Greasewood, sage, and spring mustard.
Or the hot wind coming down from Santa Ana
Driving the hills crazy,
A fast wind with a bit of dust in it
Bruising everything and making the seed sweet.
Or down in the city where the peach trees
Are awkward as young horses,
And there are kites caught on the wires
Up above the street lamps,
And the storm drains are all choked with dead branches.


What are you thinking?

I am thinking of how many times this poem
Will be repeated. How many summers
Will torture California
Until the damned maps burn
Until the mad cartographer
Falls to the ground and possesses
The sweet thick earth from which he has been hiding.

What are you thinking now?

I am thinking that a poem could go on forever.

Jack Spicer at Penn Sound and the Electronic Poetry Center

Jack Spicer Feature
Jacket 7


Experience is the outcome of work; immediate experience is the phantasmagoria of the idler.
    - Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project

Walter Benjamin
July 15, 1892 - September 27, 1940

The wrinkles and creases on our faces are the registration of the great passions, vices, insights that called upon us... but we, the masters, were not home.
    ---   Walter Benjamin

The Author as Producer
Walter Benjamin
Address at the Institute for the Study of Fascism
Paris, April 27, 1934
translated by Edmund Jephcott

What is the relationship bewtween form and content, particularly in political poetry? This kind of question has a bad name; rightly so. It is the textbook exambple of the attempt to explain literary connections undialectically, with clichés....

The dialectical approach to this question ... has absolutely no use for such rigid, isolated things as work, novel, book. It has to insert them into the living social contexts. ... when a work was subjected to a materialist critique, it was custumary to ask how this work stood vis-à-vis the social relations of production of its time. This is an important question, but also a very difficult one. Its answer is not always unambiguous. And I would like now to propose to you a more immediate question ... Rather than asking, "What is the attitude of a work to the relations of pruduction of its time?" I would like to ask, "What is its position in them? This question directly concerns the function the work has within the literary relations of production of its time. It is concerned, in other words, directly with the literary technique of works.

A Small History of Photography
Walter Benjamin
The camera is getting smaller and smaller, ever readier to capture fleeting and secret moments whose images paralyse 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 contructivist photography must remain arrested in the approximate. Not for nothing have Atget's photographs been likened to those of the scene of a crime. But is not everfy square inch of our cities the scene of a crime? Every passer-by a culprit? Is it not the task of the photograopher - 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 accounted an illiterate? Will not the caption become the most important part of the photograph? Such are the questions in which the interval of ninety years that separate us from the age of the edaguerrotype discharges its historical tension.
* 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 Afterimage, July-August, 1997

thanks to Helquin Artifacts


A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

    - Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History


"Imagine Lucifer..."
 Jack Spicer

Imagine Lucifer
An angel without angelness
An apple
Plucked clear by will of taste, color,
Strength, beauty, roundness, seed
Absent of all God painted, present everything
An apple is.
Imagine Lucifer
An angel without angelness
A poem
That has revised itself out of sound
Imagine, rhyme, concordance
Absent of all God spoke of, present everything
A poem is.
                   The law I say, the Law
What is Lucifer
An emperor with no clothes
No skin, no flesh, no heart
An emperor!


The Task of the Translator
Walter Benjamin

Melancholia, Mourning And The Task Of The Translator
Adam Rosen

The Storyteller [PDF]
Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov
Walter Benjamin

the storyteller is a man who has counsel for his readers. But if today "having counsel" is beginning to have an old-fashioned ring, this is because the communicability of experience is decreasing. In consequence we have no counsel either for ourselves or for others. After all, counsel is less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding. To seek this counsel one would first have to be able to tell the story. (Quite apart from the fact that a man is receptive to counsel only to the extent that he allows his situation to speak.) Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out. This, however, is a process that has been going on for a long time. And nothing would be more fatuous than to want to see in it merely a "symptom of decay," let alone a "modern" symptom. It is, rather, only a concomitant symptom of the secular productive forces of history, a concomitant that has quite gradually removed narrative from the realm of living speech and at the same time is making it possible to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Walter Benjamin (1936)

1940 Survey Of French Literature
Walter Benjamin
Paris, 23 March 1940
Translated by David Fernbach


Reading in the Ruins
Fragments of the Passagenwerk
A meander through the Arcades project of Walter Benjamin
Other Voices 1.1 (March 1997)

Surreal Dreamscapes: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades [PDF]
Michael Calderbank


This article examines Benjamin’s theoretical writings on the dream as a crucial aspect of his engagement with Surrealism. Given his ambivalence towards Surrealism’s potential for mystical thinking, it addresses Benjamin’s encounter in the Arcades Project with the work of Louis Aragon, and its resonances with the writings of vitalist philosopher Ludwig Klages, whom Benjamin had known in his youth. The article traces the ways in which Benjamin’s dream theory formed part of his understanding of the revolutionary project of Surrealism, only to lose its critical force in his later 1930s work, and it suggests ways in which Benjamin might have developed this project more successfully

The Passageways of Paris:
Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West
Christopher Rollason

Remains To Be Seen
Stanley Cavell reviews Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin

So it was for this that Walter Benjamin summoned voices to blend and to contend with his, and with each other's, ones that he found to flow along his dreams (e.g., p. 467)--his and (he claims, as a philosopher must) ours (e.g., pp. 212, 391)--from which the work of this work is variously to join in awakening us (e.g., pp. 388, 458), rescuing (e.g., pp. 473, 476) or say redeeming (e.g., pp. 332, 462) the phenomena of our world, processes that require blasting phenomena from their historical successions (p. 475), suggesting thought as a volcano (p. 698), forming new constellations (e.g., p. 463), allegorizing (e.g., pp. 211, 330, 367) the dialectical in every genuine image (e.g., 462, 473), where the place one encounters such an image is language (p. 462), in which the past and future are polarized by means of anticipating as it were the present (p. 470) (a thought Benjamin compliments Turgot for formulating [p. 478]; for us it is quite pure Thoreau), and where, further, "the present" is not a fixed point but a scene of ruins (p. 474), illuminated by flashes of lightning (e.g., pp. 91, 226, 456) (a melodramatic but recognizable vision of Wittgenstein's Investigations), each of which marks a now, a dawn, of recognition (e.g., pp. 463, 473), allowing thought to be drawn, as by the magnetic North Pole (p. 456) (which others correct for, which Benjamin claims to correct by), not toward purported permanencies and their petrified (p. 366) understandings (supporting our familiar forms of social cohesion) but to the debris or detritus of a culture (pp. 460, 543), occasions for reading, for rebuking the idea of decline as much as the idea of progress in history (e.g., 460).

For those of us frightened away from this most rumored of unfinished or unpublished or unwritten modern works by how much we must miss in Benjamin's deployment of German, the labors of love manifested in this English presentation expose us--I speak for myself--to a preliminary question: How much do I understand of my present state, as registered in my opening improvised recording, in reading this work?


The County Arcade, Leeds
Architect: Frank Matcham
(1898-1900) Photograph: B. Toomey


Shopping for Truth
[with Walter Benjamin's ghost]
Adrian Gargett

Why all the interest in a treatise on shopping in 19th century France? There is no doubt that to rationalise and design Benjamin in preparation for his comfortable digestion by capital's cultural machine is a piece of twisted prostitution of the kind he would fully have appreciated. A recovery of the sense of Benjamin's writing is the surest path to its radical impoverishment. The object of philosophy, insofar as the reflective meditation upon thought could be taken to characterize it, is arbitrarily prescribed as undisturbed reasoning. It is thus that successfully adapted, tranquil, moderate and productive reason monopolizes the philosophical conception of thought, in the same way that the generalized somnambulism of regulated labour precludes all intense gestures from social existence. Who cares what "anyone" thinks, knows, or theorizes about Benjamin? The only thing to try and touch is the intense shock wave that still reaches us along with the textual embers, for as long, that is, as anything can still "reach us." Where Descartes needed God to mediate his relations with his contemporaries, secular humanity is content with the TV-screen, and with all the other commodified channels of simulated communication with which civilization is so thoughtfully endowed. Such things are for our own protection of course; to filter out the terrifying threat of a realisation that would awaken us from our dream.

Metaphysics of the Profane
The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem
Eric Jacobson

Walter Benjamin and the Virtual: Politics, Art, and Mediation in the Age of Global Culture
Transformations, November 2007

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

Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate

History is photography: the afterimage of Walter Benjamin
Jeannene M. Przyblyski

Dangerous Memories
Epilogue to The Work of Memory
Steven T. Ostovich

Walter Benjamin's understanding of memory is bound up with his philosophy of language and history and his theology, but it is based on an experience he characterizes as the "chaos of memories." There is a resistance to narrative ordering and control associated with memory for Benjamin. He specifies this resistance further: "I find in my memory rigidly fixed words, expressions, verses that, like a malleable mass which has later cooled and hardened, preserve in me the imprint of the collision between a larger collective and myself" in which "isolated words have remained in place as marks of catastrophic encounters." Catastrophe engenders memories whose rough and hardened edges preclude placement in smooth-flowing narratives as a form of coming to terms with the past. These memories are disturbing in a manner similar to dreams. Like dreams, these memories involve crossing a threshold and stepping outside the closed world of normalcy. They "arrest" thought: "Thinking involves not only the flow of thoughts, but their arrest as well. Where thinking suddenly stops in a configuration pregnant with tensions, it gives that configuration a shock, by which it crystallizes into a monad." The political theologian Johann Baptist Metz, under the influence of Benjamin, describes these memories as follows:
There are memories in which earlier experiences break through the centre-point of our lives and reveal new and dangerous insights for our present. They illuminate for a few moments and with a harsh steady light the questionable nature of things we have apparently come to terms with, and show up the banality of our supposed "realism." They break through the canon of all that is taken as self-evident, and unmask as deception the certainty of those "whose hour is always there" (John 7.6). They seem to subvert our structures of plausibility. Such memories are like dangerous and incalculable visitants from the past.
These memories are dangerous in their threat to attempts to master the past through constructing historical narratives.
The Work of Memory
New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture
Edited by Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche


Passages: The memorial to Benjamin
Dani Karavan
photo by Jaume Blasi

Walter Benjamin’s Grave: A Profane Illumination
An excerpt from Walter Benjamin's Grave, Michael Taussig, The University of Chicago Press

Beaches and graveyards
Europe's haunted borders Les Back visits Portbou

The Case of Extreme Danger: Central Europe, Kafka With Benjamin


The Autumn of Central Paris
(after Walter Benjamin)
R.B. Kitaj


The street conducts the flâneur into a vansihed time. For him, every street is precipitous. It leads downward - if not to the mythical Mothers, then into a past that can be all the more spellbinding because it is not his own, not private. Nevertheless, it always remains the time of a childhood. But why that of the life he has lived? In the asphalt over which he passes, his steps awaken a surprising resonance. The gaslight that streams down on the paving stones throws an equivical light on this double ground.
    - Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin

'A Question of Tomorrow : Blanchot, Surrealism and the Time of the Fragment' [PDF]
David Cunningham


I am honoured by the s lot's inclusion in Ralph E. Luker's list of 80 history blogs

(Bridge and Fog)
Imre Kinszki
1901 - 1943/44

FOTO: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1948


Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy
Paola Marrati
translated by Alisa Hartz

Cinema 1 (The Movement-Image) and 2 (The Time-Image) offer challenging analyses of modes of perception. They describe a plurality of equally compelling was of linking past, present, and future, ways that may exclude each other, but that, more often than not, overlap and coexist, giving to time, and to our experience of it, a thick, layered fabric. Together these books provide innovative concepts to help us think about the power of images, affects, and beliefs, about the powere of the mind and of the body (....)

Cinema 1 and 2 are the key texts in which Deleuze develops his political philosophy. ... because Deleuze aims to grasp the specificity of cinema, its novelty, as well as the novelty of its different instances, ...he is led to analyse in detail forms of action and agency and their transformations. It is such a close analysis of agency that constitutes, to my mind, the political contribution of Cinema 1 and 2.

download pdf


Dr. Purse Lip Square Jaw
Congratulations Ann


We Laughed, We Cried
Flann O'Brien's triumph Roger Boylan

If we don’t cherish the work of Flann O’Brien,” said Anthony Burgess, the late English novelist (he of A Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers), “we are stupid fools who don’t deserve to have great men.” Burgess can rest in peace on that score, at least. Flann O’Brien’s work is becoming about as cherished as avant-garde literature can ever expect to be, and not just among the cognoscenti. Flann O’Brien is chic. (....)

... so the mad merry-go-round goes on, with no prospect of release—although Eternity, one of the policemen points out, is just a short stroll down the road, then a mere elevator ride upstairs. It’s all side-splittingly terrifying. “Like Beckett,” says Cronin, “[O’Nolan] is scarifying all through, and the result is an unrelentingly bleak view of human existence which is also a comic triumph.”

Indeed, Beckett is the only other writer known to me who can wring so much laughter out of so little hope, although some of the Russians, notably Gogol and Dostoevsky, come close, and one or two of the French modernists, such as Celine and Camus, live in the same emotional neighborhood, without the guffaws. But The Third Policeman is so entirely successful on all of its many levels as to be virtually sui generis.(....)

... he said once, who “has the courage to raise his eyes and look sanely at the awful human condition . . . must realize finally that tiny periods of temporary release from intolerable suffering is the most that any individual has the right to expect.”

His best work gives us that release.

Flann O'Brien at the Scriptorium

A Casebook on Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds
Edited by Thomas C. Foster

Thomas C. Foster provides an overview and introduction to the novel. M. Keith Booker’s “Postmodern and/or Postcolonial?: The Politics of At Swim-Two-Birds” focuses on O'Brien's use of "popular" culture, including a mobilization of both American popular culture and Irish mythology. Monique Gallagher writes on “Frontier Instability in At Swim-Two-Birds,” in which she discusses O'Brien's destabilizing strategies in the novel. Kelly Anspaugh’s “Agonizing with Joyce” examines the Oedipal conflicts with Joyce that inform the novel’s intertextuality.

"War represents the uniformed hospital and operating room phase of an overall remedial pathology in treatment of man's affairs. In this inherited scheme of life, science and technology are invoked directly by society only at the eleventh hour to arrest the malady fostered by laissez faire, ignorance, opinion, shortsightedness, prejudice and egocentricity. Formally declared war is the final spectacular and open chapter following the prolonged and far more sanguinary private and non-spectacular chapters of strife under the guise of 'Peace'."
   -  - Buckminster Fuller
       July 12, 1895 - July 1, 1983

Why Did The Fathers of the American Revolution Hate America?
John Holbo


Swap the Donkey for a Weasel
Carl J. Mayer on Democrats

July 9, 2008 will go down as the day in history that the Democratic Party, on bended-knee, raised the white flag and capitulated to the most fervent desire of George Bush and Dick Cheney: to immunize the giant phone corporations and the Bush administration itself from any legal liability for their unconstitutional, criminal spying on ordinary American citizens.

This vote will be seen as the moment when all pretense of an opposition party in America dissolved.

Obama’s Faith-Based Makeover
Bill Berkowitz

Legitimizing Permanent Occupation of Iraq
Stephen Lendman

The Audacity of Imperial Airbrushing:
Barack Obama’s Whitewashed History of U.S. Foreign Policy
Paul Street

The United States has a solution for avoiding discussion of the many crimes it has committed against weaker nations: denial. “It never happened,” say the Americans, when confronted with the facts. Barack Obama is as skilled in the denial arts as anyone, and so are his advisors. “In Obama's world view, as in that of his Harvard friend and former foreign policy adviser Samantha Power, American crimes generally don't exist. They didn't happen.” Denial is serious business. “Candidate Obama's foreign policy pronouncements have been loaded with promises of future criminality under an Obama administration.”

Delusions About Obama
Mike Whitney

What the world really needs is a five or ten year break from the United States; a little breather so people can unwind and take it easy for a while without worrying that their wedding party will be vaporized in a blast of napalm or that their brother-in-law will be dragged off to some CIA hellhole where his eyes are gouged out and his fingernails ripped off. That's what the world really needs, a temporary pause in the imperial violence. But there won't be any sabbatical under Field-Marshall Obama; no way. As Bill Van Auken points out in an article on the World Socialist web site, Obama may turn out to be the point-man for reinstating the draft(....)

The truth is that the left Obama supporters have projected their own values onto their candidate and are trying to make him out to be something that he is not. They put words in his mouth so they can continue to hold on to the crazy notion that the system really isn't broken and that it can be fixed by simply pulling a lever on election day. This is just the lazy-person's way of ignoring the real work that needs to be done to restore American democracy; the organizing of groups and networks, the building of labor unions and working coalitions, the focussed determination to root-out corruption and entrenched corporate power. The system has to be rebuilt from the bottom-up not the top-down. It'll take a revolution in thinking and lots of hard work. There's no quick fix. Freedom isn't free anymore; deal with it. Voting for Obama and keeping one's fingers crossed, is not a sign of hope. It's a sign of self-delusion.


In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort
Richard Avedon
Les Rencontres d'Arles 2008
81 preview photos
lens culture


Canada gradually adopted another posture: honest broker between the old rulers and ruled, known today as the developed and developing nations. This rested on a sense that Canada could identify with both sides, because it had been a colony, too. Stephen Harper shows no such sensibility. He's the Gunga Din of post-9/11, carrying water (and oil) to his masters, along with the white man's burden. How so?
Harper Sahib at the G8
Rick Salutin
He overidentified with the big guys there, like a yelpy pup among Great Danes. He took it on himself to explain that the G8 excluded nations such as India and China since its job is “to bring together the major countries, advanced countries of shared values.” It's insulting, grandiose, delusional and ignores all the similarities “we” share with “them.” Does he even know that Canada was once a colony?(....)

The over-obvious irony is that China and India are developed. They've built postmodern, industrial, innovative economies. Their big flaws are social and moral, not economic. Canada, meanwhile, is deindustrializing, with full acquiescence by the Harper government, and declining into reliance on raw materials. We're back to hewers and carriers. It's rapid underdevelopment. Those nations must snicker faster than they can bristle as they watch our PM strut among the G8 as he condescends to them. He's George Bush's poodle now that Tony Blair's moved on, and there's nothing to be gained by it.

Maybe it's Canada's role, or that of today's white dominions, to be more imperial than the Empire long after the Empire has relinquished its crasser forms and learned a few lessons. I mean, who still celebrates Victoria's birthday? Trust me, it's not the Brits.


The Death of Reaganomics
E.J. Dionne

The biggest political story of 2008 is getting little coverage. It involves the collapse of assumptions that have dominated our economic debate for three decades.

Since the Reagan years, free-market clichés have passed for sophisticated economic analysis. But in the current crisis, these ideas are falling, one by one, as even conservatives recognize that capitalism is ailing.

You know the talking points: Regulation is the problem and deregulation is the solution. The distribution of income and wealth doesn’t matter. Providing incentives for the investors of capital to “grow the pie” is the only policy that counts. Free trade produces well-distributed economic growth, and any dissent from this orthodoxy is “protectionism.”

The old script is in rewrite. “We are in a worldwide crisis now because of excessive deregulation,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview.


"Non-Aquatic Apes"


let the seas rise
let the storms pummel
let only our highways persist
year by year
as the towers tatter & tumble

suppose i root for the orangutans instead
suppose for the orcas
for the sequoias

the watch abandoned
the record

an hour of sleep
who needs more than that


Farm Garden with Crucifix
Gustav Klimt
July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918

Working with the light

Hugh Symonds


Let us enter into this relation.

The Step Not Beyond
(Le Pas Au-Dela)
Maurice Blanchot
translated by Lycette Nelson

Time, time: the step not beyond that is not acomplished in time would lead outside of time, without this outside being intemporal, but there where time would fall, fragile fall, according to this "outside of time in time" towards which writing would attract us, were we allowed, having disappeared from ourselves, to write within the secret of the ancient fear. • From where does it come, this power of uprooting, of destruction or change, in the first words written facing the sky, in the solitude of the sky, words by themselves without prospect or pretense: "it—the sea"? (....)

• All words are adult. Only the space in which they reverberate—a space infinitely empty, like a garden where, even after the children have disappeared, their joyful cries continue to be heard—leads them back towards the perpetual death in which they seem to keep being born.

pdf download


America and China: The Eagle and the Dragon

With a $3 trillion war bill and an economy that flounders as China's soars, could America's era of dominance on the world stage be coming to an end? Mick Brown and the photographer Alec Soth travelled across America and China to observe how the future of these two great nations is intertwined, and to find out whether, in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics and the US election, we are on the brink of a new world order.

via Jörg Colberg

Alec Soth

Part two: Requiem for a dream

It has become a commonplace to describe Detroit as the sick city of America, but it is sobering to reflect on just how long this has been so. Browsing the internet before arriving in the city I came across an article in Time magazine headlined 'Decline in Detroit', lamenting the rising unemployment rate, the rate of migration from the city and its declining tax base. 'Blight is creeping like a fungus through many of Detroit's proud, old neighbourhoods,' it read. The article was dated 1961.

Detroit owed its boom years to Henry Ford's moving assembly line. Between 1910 and 1940 the population of the city swelled with an influx of both blacks and whites from the South to work in the auto factories. During the Second World War, Detroit became 'the armoury of America', churning out vehicles and arms for the war effort.

Then came the long, slow decline.

Fisher Body Plant 21
Alec Soth


It turns out that product development, which was to be America's replacement for manufacturing jobs, is the second largest business function that is offshored.
A Work Force Betrayed
Watching Greed Murder the Economy
Paul Craig Roberts
The collapse of world socialism, the rise of the high speed Internet, a bought-and-paid-for US government, and a million dollar cap on executive pay that is not performance related are permitting greedy and disloyal corporate executives, Wall Street, and large retailers to dismantle the ladders of upward mobility that made America an “opportunity society.” In the 21st century the US economy has been able to create net new jobs only in nontradable domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, government workers, hospital orderlies, and retail clerks. (Nontradable services are “hands on” services that cannot be sold as exports, such as haircuts, waiting a table, fixing a drink.)(....)

When manufacturing jobs began leaving the US, no-think economists gave their assurances that this was a good thing. Grimy jobs that required little education would be replaced with new high tech service jobs requiring university degrees. The American work force would be elevated. The US would do the innovating, design, engineering, financing and marketing, and poor countries such as China would manufacture the goods that Americans invented. High-tech services were touted as the new source of value-added that would keep the American economy preeminent in the world.

The assurances that economists gave made no sense. If it pays corporations to ship out high value-added manufacturing jobs, it pays them to ship out high value-added service jobs. And that is exactly what US corporations have done.


VOL. 08 · NO. 04 · July 2008

The Tropical Turn
Los Angeles before the movies
James Kessenides

That we do not readily recognize the nineteenth-century part of this story owes, in a word, to the movies—or, to the wholesale naturalization of the Gilded Age imagery of Los Angeles in the era of the classical Hollywood cinema and beyond—the era of, as it were, mass culture. So strong have the signs and signals of this era been, encompassing not only the movies but also literature, art, and architecture, that we have neglected an entire, earlier way of seeing Los Angeles—and "Southern California."

But the nineteenth-century invention of Southern California deserves our attention. It resulted in the creation of a mythology and iconography that continues to surround Los Angeles, even as the early origins and full implications of this "L.A. style" continue to escape our notice. In the aftermath of the Civil War, "Southern California" meant something very different than it does today.


It should be said that the founders’ views on these matters have not survived strict historical scrutiny.
The Supreme Court Confronts History
Or, habeas corpus redivivus
H. Robert Baker
History matters. Perhaps more to the point, how we craft history matters, whether we are historians or not. The Supreme Court proved this on June 12 when it issued its decision in Boumediene v. Bush. The case concerns habeas corpus, latin for "have the body" (as in a command by a judge to a jailor to "have the body in my courtroom and explain why you are restraining him or her"). In Boumediene, the question at issue was whether the government could strip federal courts of jurisdiction to entertain prisoners’ applications for habeas corpus. The Court broke five to four against the government, ruling that Congress had exceeded its authority. The case is sure to be a landmark. Many books will be written about it, and generations of law students will debate its merits. It will also prove the old dictum that hard cases make bad law. The issues in Boumediene are legion and the technical complexity formidable. Reasonable people can violently disagree on the correct legal outcomes warranted by the facts of the case. Which is why history matters so. Both Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent turn to the past to justify their interpretations of habeas corpus. In doing so, they demonstrate just how immediate the past can be—but also just how divisive it remains. Choosing between the five justices in the majority and the four in the minority is, in essence, choosing between two very different histories.

I go down to the river to pray
Derek Henderson


A Passion for Places
The geographic turn in early American history
Trevor Burnard

Early Americanists’ privileging of space over time is so natural as to be almost reflexive. I remember very well putting on a conference for early Americanists where the specific theme was chronology. I hoped, in vain as I knew would be the case, for proposals on specific decades—the 1610s, or 1690s, or 1730s, for example. I still think it would be a useful exercise for early Americanists to concentrate attention on studying all of British America or even all of Atlantic America in small periods of time. It would be useful to differentiate what happened in the 1640s from what had occurred in the 1630s and to make a distinction between British America in the 1720s and British America in the 1740s or 1750s. But, as one might expect, my hopes were not fulfilled. People interpreted chronology through a prism of regionalism—what happened in Virginia, for example, in the first half of the seventeenth century or in Pennsylvania in the mid-eighteenth century. Like medievalists, early Americanists are accustomed to working over whole centuries or at least half centuries and find shorter time periods as well as larger geographical contexts difficult to deal with. The scholarly debate that modern Americanists have over when the 1950s became the 1960s has no counterpart in early American history.

Shampoo - Issue Thirty-three
July 2008


independent and open publishing

The Mathematics of Novelty: Badiou’s Minimalist Metaphysics
Sam Gillespie

The Mathematics of Novelty: Badiou’s Minimalist Metaphysics tackles the issue of philosophical materialism in Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou, enquiring after the source and nature of the ‘novelty’ that both philosophers of multiplicity claim to discover in the objective world. In this characteristically erudite analysis, Sam Gillespie maintains that where novelty in Deleuze is ultimately located in a Leibnizian affirmation of the world, for Badiou, the new, which is the coming-to-be of a truth, must be located exterior to the ‘situation’, i.e. in the void. Following a lucid presentation of the central concepts of Badiou’s philosophy as they relate to the problem of novelty (mathematics as ontology, truth, the subject and the event), Gillespie identifies a significant problem in Badiou’s conception of the subject which he suggests can be answered by way of a supplementary framework derived from Lacan’s concept of anxiety. Gillespie’s intent to illuminate the relation of philosophy to the four truth procedures (art, love, science, politics) leads him to the polemical conclusion that, as a transformative rather than descriptive or reflective project, Badiou’s philosophy ultimately reclaims the power of the negative from the positivity and pure productiveness of Deleuze’s system, thereby freeing thought from the limits set by experience.

Cottage (from Fairy Tale)
Stephen O’Connor


Hope is a fire that consumes the brain.
Emptiness on water is called a boat.
Love is what keeps you from everything you want.
Your hunger is an affront.

Slide between branches, my darlings.
Clothe yourselves in rain.
Walk upon grass till it no longer bends.
Come back to me in springtime
on the path that never ends.

Tears are what blind us. Memory is death.
Your father has gone before you.
He waits
in a golden meadow with his axe.


Ralph Eugene Meatyard
1925 - 1972

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The fragmentary: what comes to us from it, question, demand, practical decision? To no longer be able to write except in relation to the fragmentary is not to write in fragments, unless the fragment is itself a sign for the fragmentary. To think the fragmentary, to think it in relation to the neuter, the two seeming to pronounce themselves together, without a community of presence and as outside one another. The fragmentary: writing belongs to the fragmentary when all has been said. There would have to have been exhaustion of the word and by the word, accomplishment of all (of presence as all) as logos, in order that fragmentary writing could let itself be re-marked. Still, we cannot, thus, writing, free ourselves from a logic of totality in considering it as ideally completed, in order to maintain as "pure remainder" a possibility of writing, outside of everything, useless or endless, whose study a completely different logic (that of repetition, of limits, and of the return)—still difficult to disengage—claims to guarantee us. What is already decided is that such a writing would never be "pure", but, on the contrary, profoundly altered, with an alteration that could not be defined (arrested) in regard to a norm, not only because it always coexists with all forms of existence, of speech, of thought, of temporality, which alone would make it possible, but because it excludes the consideration of a pure form, excluding even an approach to itself as true or proper in its very disappropriation; even all the reversals which we easily use up—beginning again as beginning, riation as authenticity, repetition as difference—leave us within the logic of validity.

The fragmentary expresses itself best, perhaps, in a language that does not recognize it. Fragmentary: meaning neither the fragment, part of a whole, nor the fragmentary in itself. The aphorism, the proverb, maxim, citation, thoughts, themes—verbal cells in being further removed than the infinitely continuous discourse whose content is "its own continuity", continuity that is assured of itself only in giving itself as circular and, by this turn, submitting itself to the preliminary of a return whose law is outside, which outside is outside the law.

    - Blanchot, Le Pas Au-Dela


aboard the bluenose ll

Minor White
July 9, 1908 – June 24, 1976

1 2 3 4 5


Dreams with a memory- Minor White remembered Legacy: The Continuing Influence of Ansel Adams and Minor White [PDF]
Eric Biggerstaff

View Camera :: The Journal of Large-Format Photography

Vicinity of Georgetown, Colorado


Volume Two Number One (June 2008)

Interruptions: Derrida and Hospitality [PDF]
Mark W. Westmoreland

Come in. Welcome. Be my guest and I will be yours. Shall we ask, in accordance with the Derridean question, “Is not hospitality an interruption of the self?” What is the relationship between the interruption and the moment one enters the host’s home? Derrida calls us toward a new understanding of hospitality—as an interruption. This paper will illuminate the history of hospitality in the West as well as trace Derrida’s discussions of hospitality throughout many of works. The overall goal of this project is to provide readers of Derrida with a sort of reference guide for his discussions on and deconstructive approach to hospitality.

Throughout most of Derrida’s work, there lurks an oasis of hospitality, sometimes on the verge of the horizon. At other times, it shines in the foreground. It is in these shining moments that we—both host and guest— will venture in order to grasp the foundation of Derrida’s thoughts on hospitality. Only then will we clearly see the horizon. This new understanding of hospitality requires a rethinking of the laws of common, conditional hospitality in contrast with the law, or perhaps we should say ethics, of unconditional hospitality.

via Continental Philosophy


For the Fifty (Who Made PEACE with Their Bodies)
Philip Metres

In the green beginning,
         in the morning mist,
                   they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
         slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
                   necks & tanks, Tommy's & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
         abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
                   & names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor's rhetoric of defense,
         laying it down, their child-
                   stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
         onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
                   as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
         the shape of a word yet to come, almost
                   embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
         of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
                   they touch to make

the word they want to become:
         it's difficult to get the news
                   from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
         here: the fifty hold, & still
                   to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
         themselves & themselves: the body,
                   the dreaming disarmed body.

To See the Earth
Philip Metres

Daily Pilgrims
Virgilio Ferreira

via Heading East


Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory
9.2 - Summer 2008

Politics and Perversion: Situating Zizek’s Paul [pdf]
Adam Kotsko
Given that Žižek is often seen (erroneously) as an advocate or popularizer of Badiou’s philosophy, one might assume that Žižek’s critique of Agamben amounts to a simple reassertion of Badiou’s reading of Paul. This is not the case. In fact, Žižek’s reading of Paul in The Puppet and the Dwarf is at least implicitly a critique of Badiou’s, and more importantly, represents a significant advance over Badiou’s, particularly on the question of the law in Romans 7. In support of this contention, I will first briefly outline Badiou’s interpretation of Paul’s position on the law, then move on to Žižek’s critique of Badiou in The Ticklish Subject. Finally, I will turn to the task of making sense of Žižek’s discussion of Paul in the context of his argument in The Puppet and the Dwarf.

"Non-Lethal" Weapons: Where Science and Technology Service Repression

Acoustic microwave armaments? Laser induced plasma channels? Vortex ring guns? Are these high-tech MacGuffins spiffing-up the latest Hollywood near-future thriller? Regrettably, no. Welcome to the twisted world of "non-lethal" weapons research brought to you by the "fun" folks at the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

A Terrible and Silent Crisis: The Destruction of the American Working Class
Dave Pollard reviewing Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus

Joe laments the fact that both affluent and poor are now being brought up with neither the capacity nor the need for self-recognition -- for discovering who they are as individuals. Instead, they are given a 'menu' of lifestyles to choose from, each with its own defining brand names and ensembles. "Adult yokels and urban sophisticates can choose from a preselected array of possible selves based solely on what they like to eat, see, wear, hear and drive." None of us can, any longer, "make up his or her identity from scratch." The upper-middle and affluent suburban "catering classes", those who support the corporatist centre (orange band in my chart above), are more to blame for its excesses than the working class because the catering classes at least have the education and power to see and resist it. When I published this chart a couple of years ago, it never occurred to me, in my liberal affluent comfort, that many or most of those living on the Edge are not at all able to see the centre for what it is, or to have any inkling that they need to pull further away from it, not aspire to become part of it.

We are all, Joe argues, prisoners of this corporatist political and economic system, caught, more or less, in its web. "America's much-ballyhood liberty is largely fictional. Three million of us are [in prisons or on parole]...The rest of us are captives of credit, our jobs, our need for health insurance, or our ceaseless quest for a decent retirement fund." What's worse, "You never know you are in prison until you try the door". And America's working class in particular has been so systematically dumbed down that they can't even see the door.

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
Joe Bageant


The Working Poor: Survival In An Economic Darwinism America
Christy Hardin Smith

via pas au-delà


Minor White Sequencing Photographs

Minor White was known for his practice of sequences photographs and his theory of reading photographs. He'd interrogate the photograph based on what one knew, felt, sensed, associated with, and understood about, the image. This meant each viewer would construct a reading based on personal experience, cultural context, and historical time period.
    - James R. Hugunin

Twelve Ways to Know the Past
Athanasios Moulakis

... a cultural legacy is never simply given. As Goethe observed, one must acquire it in order to possess it. To come alive, a cultural heritage needs to be read, deciphered, interpreted, and felt. It is like a landscape: What aesthetic, cultural, and social messages it conveys depend on how you look at it. The same valley looks different in the eyes of a painter, a rancher, or a military planner. Depending on who I am, I can see that valley as picturesque, as good for grazing cattle, or as suitable for deploying light cavalry. And landscapes are sometimes deliberately arranged to suit the expectations or taste of the viewer. The gondolier sings Neapolitan songs, to the delight of foreign honeymooners and the horror of true Venetians. The Houses of Parliament rebuilt after the Blitz are “Gothic,” faithfully reproducing the Victorian fake. Revivals and renaissances are other ways of rearranging the past. As Ernest Renan wrote in his 1882 essay “What Is a Nation?” a nation coheres as much around what it forgets as what it remembers.

There are many ways of apprehending (and eliding) the past, but 12 stand out as most ­common:

via Richard L. W. Clarke at Philosophy's Other


Katsushika Hokusai

Ah! the foot-drawn trail
Of the mountain-pheasant's tail
Drooped like down-curved branch!--
Through this long, long-dragging night
Must I keep my couch alone?
    - Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse
illustrated by Katsushika Hokusai

Single Songs of a Hundred Poets and The Dominant Note of the Law
translated by Clay MacCauley

via MonkeyFilter


IntraText Digital Library

Full-text Digital Library offering books and corpora as lexical hypertexts on Creative Commons License Committed to accuracy, accessibility and Tablet PC oriented cognitive ergonomics

via Tom Matrullo

Mimoza Ahmeti
Mental asylum with open doors
(Çmendina me portë hapur)

You are going, you are leaving us,
Thinking it's "forever."
Fleeing from this, which is yours, ours,
Which is our mental asylum,
Our beloved, moving asylum
With skulls dismembered.

Oh, my sacred madmen,
How I love you,
Though I never speak to you,
Though you never speak to me
And I cannot stand you
And you cannot stand me.
But such are the rites:
We never look each other in the eye
Without hating one another,
And such is the motive
For loving one another mad,
While smiling in exaltation,
And all the while
Tears flow down our cheeks
Fellow sufferers
Of our unique madness,
You who are setting off into exile,
With eyes fixed
On one sole idea,
Oh, only on one sole idea,
Which has never been seen, never been found
And I doubt if it ever will be found.

Be off, depart, disappear.
From place to place, from country to country...
Oh, what shrieking echoes
Out of our asylum
As the sun sets late in the west,
When longing lingers for its children in the West...

What sorrow!
Bare walls... Walls which always
                                    block the horizon
And leave an infinite sky above.

There, after midnight, the sobbing subsides,
Someone is talking to himself:
Nonetheless, the Albanians
Wherever they may be,
Make do with their own madness...

Aaron Siskind: The Egan Gallery Years, 1947-1954
Robert Mann Gallery
via gmtPlus9 (-15)

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The Internet and Globalization: A View from Buenos Aires
Joshua Karliner

...globalization and all its contradictions hits home directly for me here in the Buenos Aires neighborhood I’m living in. Once a zone of automechanics and warehouses, Palermo Viejo is today one of the hippest and most popular destinations in this wonderful city. Now known as Palermo Hollywood, it is a barrio in the midst of a vast transformation. Many of our neighbors have lived here for forty or more years – they are old-school butchers, bakers, antique dealers, bar owners. Yet they are increasingly surrounded by trendy boutiques and fashionable restaurants. Many are being squeezed out by big corporate real estate that has entered the scene and is speculating on a series of high-end apartment towers that will forever change the face of this low-slung old time neighborhood. In the midst of it all are a throng of artists, ex pats, and activists organizing for the soul of the barrio.
accompanying photo essay


"Each generation," writes Chris Hedges, "discovers its own disillusionment, often at a terrible price. And the war in Iraq has begun to produce legions of the lost and the damned." For our morally courageous veterans - for all of us, really, who seek forgiveness - only the truth can heal.
Welcome Home, Soldier: Now Shut Up
Paul Rockwell
There are two kinds of courage in war - physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is very common on the battlefield. Men and women on both sides risk their lives, place their own bodies in harm’s way. Moral courage, however, is quite rare. According to Chris Hedges, the brilliant New York Times war correspondent who survived wars in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, “I rarely saw moral courage. Moral courage is harder. It requires the bearer to walk away from the warm embrace of comradeship and denounce the myth of war as a fraud, to name it as an enterprise of death and immorality, to condemn himself, and those around him, as killers. It requires the bearer to become an outcast. There are times when taking a moral stance, perhaps the highest form of patriotism, means facing down the community, even the nation.”

More and more U.S. soldiers and Marines, at great cost to their own careers and reputations, are speaking publicly about U.S. atrocities in Iraq, even about the cowardice of their own commanders, who send youth into atrocity-producing situations only to hide from the consequences of their own orders.


Aaron Siskind - Harlem Document
300 Selected Images
George Eastman House


Penn Sound

...a recording of Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery and Ron Silliman's 1980 collection, LEGEND. The sole title published under the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E imprint, this ambitious volume featured solo pieces by each of the poets, along with collaborations in myriad combinations, culminating with "And / much clouds spun," a work attributed to all five.

Installing Lev Rubinstein's "Farther and Farther On":
From Note Cards to Field Walks
Philip Metres

In the early 1970s, on opposite sides of the Cold War divide, and in complete ignorance of each other, Russian poet Lev Rubinstein and American poet Robert Grenier initiated a series of poetry raids on the fortress of the book: both began composing poems on small cards, a practice that would culminate in Grenier's Sentences (1978), a box of 500 such card-poems, and Rubinstein's own boxes of serial cards (beginning around 1974).

Rubinstein, born in 1947 in Moscow, came to the cards for three reasons: instrumentalism, avant-gardism, and undergroundism. The legend is that Rubinstein, a librarian for twenty years in the Soviet Union, lacked paper. But index cards abounded. Like William Carlos Williams' prescription pad, Rubinstein's library cards were handy and at hand when poetry called. And because, in Rubinstein's words, "poetry is everywhere, man," he didn't have time to choose. Card led to card, then a whole series would stack up like a little Tower of Babel. Sheer inertia set in, so even today Rubinstein composes by the card.

For my talk, I will focus on a single poetic text of his, "Farther and Farther On"—in its various print, audio, video, and installation iterations—to demonstrate the ways in which this sort of poetry signifies in multiple ways once it moves from script to performance.


...an unusual model for publishing and discovering scholarly papers online. It gives readers a tag-based navigation system that uses keywords to connect excerpts of essays published on different Web sites.

Farther and Farther On
Lev Rubinstein
translated by Philip Metres and Tatiana Tulchinsky


Here, nothing matters.
I only wish I could remember this forever.


Here, the sharpest bout of nostalgia grips you.
How it comes about is unknown.


Here, one shouldn't stay for too long. Later it will probably become clear why.


Here each has his own bottom and ceiling.
Each has her own borders of falling and soaring.
And not just here.


Here, everything reminds you of something, points to something, refers to something.
But as soon as you start to understand what's what, it's time to leave.

Philip Metres maintains Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking


Violent Cartograhpies: Mapping Cultures of War
Michael Shapiro
download link


Popel Coumou

via the exposure project

Prelude to a Solid Hope for Something Better
Robyn O'Neil

Every Picture Tells a Story
The Narrative Impulse in Modern and Contemporary Art
Selected Works
The Galerie St. Etienne


Fairy tales in the pin factory
Limited, Inc.

This has been the spring for the Gothic strain of specters that Derrida stirred up in Marx in the bloggysphere; yet, so far, nobody has mentioned the name, Jack Zipes. Zipes is famous in the folklore field, or rather, literary folklore field, for applying a Marxist analysis to his study of the Grimm Brother's Märchen. Zipes, who has also translated and written about Ernst Bloch, seems to have taken Bloch’s sympathy for grassroots peasant radicalism and applied it in a field where, usually, research tends towards a Freudian or Jungian end. Well, archetypes r us has a large American market – and perhaps I shouldn’t laugh. The softening of the American imago – stoic, a loner, a killer – owes a lot to an earnest search for a spirituality that isn’t so persistently shadowed by the cross – and don’t we all want a less wifebeater friendly, a less “God is a bullet” national culture?

Introduction to Alain Badiou

Badiou argues that philosophy must reclaim its universal address, but not by simply reverting to Enlightenment rationalisms or logic, nor by dismissing the humbling developments of post-structuralist or postmodern thought and their warnings of totalization—the regime of the One over the multiple, the Subject over the other. Rather, as Peter Hallward explains with amazing brevity, Badiou seeks to elaborate an intricate philosophical revolt which will allow us to:
salvage reason from positivism, the subject from deconstruction, being from Heidegger, the infinite from theology, the event from Deleuze, revolution from Stalin, a critique of the state from Foucault, … and the affirmation of love from American popular culture. He asserts a philosophy of the subject without recourse to phenomenology, a philosophy of truth without recourse to adequation, a philosophy of the event without recourse to historicism.

A free replay (notes on ! Vertigo) [PDF]
Chris Marker

The vertigo the film deals with isn't to do with space and falling; it is a clear, understandable and spectacular metaphor for yet another kind of vertigo, much more difficult to represent - the vertigo of time. Elster's `perfect' crime almost achieves the impossible: reinventing a time when men and women and San Francisco were different to what they are now. And its perfection, as with all perfection in Hitchcock, exists in duality. Scottie will absorb the folly of time with which Elster infuses him through Madeleine/Judy. But where Elster reduces the fantasy to mediocre manifestations (wealth, power, etc), Scottie transmutes it into its most utopian form: he overcomes the most irreparable damage caused by time and resurrects a love that is dead. The entire second part of the film, on the other side of the mirror, is nothing but a mad, maniacal attempt to deny time, to recreate through trivial yet necessary signs (like the signs of a liturgy: clothes, make-up, hair) the woman whose loss he has never been able to accept. His own feelings of responsibility and guilt for this loss are mere Christian Band-Aids dressing a metaphysical wound of much greater depth.

via 3quarksdaily

Scottie: Don't you think it's a waste, to wander separately?
Madeleine: Only one is a wanderer. Two together are always going somewhere.
Scottie: No, I don't think that's necessarily true.

On Potentiality, #1
Lauren Berlant
Supervalent Thought

Our story, in short, has been the story of the potentialized. It’s never too late to have optimism, right? Thwarted potential is an endtime discourse–involving deep knowledge of the time you have wasted, the relationships you have scuttled out of fear or laziness or the blithe cruelty of being unwilling to be inconvenienced. The sickening sense of knowing that you’re what gets in your own way; and the complexities of living with it when it’s not you producing the blockage, when it’s your DNA or your bank account, your lack of the architecture of confidence or your cluelessness; your rage and sorrow: structural discrimination and exploitation; your ambivalence. The world wearing you out as it wears itself out. That model of the subject-in-potential looks at achievements and intimacies as proof that one really did deserve to have lived, after all, despite everything; that model puts the agent’s will to feel undefeated in the face of the “ego’s exhaustion” at the center of the story of optimism that represents modernity’s promise to everyone.

But the fantasy of life as accumulation or accumulated impact is only one model for assessing what it means to be in life, not that capitalist society proliferates alternative models to performative vitalism and adding up to something.(....)

The expansion of potentiality discourse bothers me, even though I’m attracted to it. In contemporary critical theory potentiality points to a focus on what’s immanent and imminent about the event that marks the present moment. It focuses on what we know affectively when there isn’t yet a world to confirm our senses of what it could be.(....)

I think that there is no politics without loss, without a serious shifting of the terms of living of the sort that produces incompetence at life, an incompetence we can look forward to if we can bear it but that has to be lived at best awkwardly, at worst, dramatically. Potentiality discourse feels too sunny to me. There, we are already all potential. Our solidarity is structural and comes from a thing we cannot be rid of: the vital right to belonging as such. At the same time, though, the work of solidarity, the activity of being not just in existence but in desire together, requires being in the room with the possibility that people don’t share your objects or your imaginaries, and that people will have to give up different things to get to the place of the better good life that you’re risking making imaginable, let alone available.

This is why intellectuals and artists invest so hard in the brain. The act of ideation itself embodies the form of optimism, because whatever its content, impact, or relation to the consensual real, it forces into being some unfinished business, which is something like that phantasm my friend no longer has access to, that living on (in potentiality) is all there is, which is a lot.

.....Supervalent Thought

Lauren Berlant’s research blog, tracking academic and random engagements with two scenes and concepts: ordinary life and attachment/detachment. I want to know why people stay attached to lives that don’t work. This is a political and a personal question. Psychoanalysis meets affect theory and Marxist critical theory.

A Poem about Sound
Andrei Bely, 1917
Translated by Thomas R. Beyer, Jr.

All motion of the tongue in the cavity of our mouth is - a gesture of an armless dancer, twirling the air, like a gaseous, dancing veil; as they fly off to the sides, the tips of the veil tickle the larynx; and - out comes a dry, aery, quick "h," pronounced like the Russian "kh"; the gesture of arms extended (upwards and to the side) is - "h" .

The gestures of the arms reflect all of the gestures of the armless dancer, dancing in a murky dungeon: beneath the arches of the palate; the movement of the arms reflects an armless mimicry; these movements are - giants of an enormous world, invisible to sound; in this way the tongue directs its bulk, the body, from out of its cave; and the body draws for us gestures; and the storms of meaning are - beneath them.

Our armless tongue observed the gesture of the arm; and duplicated it in sounds; sounds know the mysteries of ancient movements of our spirits; just as we pronounce the sounding meanings of words, so too were we once created; pronounced with meaning; our sounds - words - will become the world: we create people out of words; and the words are acts.

Sounds are - ancient gestures in the millennia of meaning; in the millennia of my coming being an arm will sing to me with cosmic meaning. Gestures are - youthful sounds of meanings implanted in my body, but not yet composed; the same thing that is occurring for the time being in a single place of the body, under the skullbone, will with the flow of time occur throughout my entire body.

My entire body will brim full of meaning.


Derrida - Fear of Writing

via Continental Philosophy


Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Robert Lowell

I'm like the king of a rain-country, rich
but sterile, young but with an old wolf's itch,
one who escapes Fénelon's apologues,
and kills the day in boredom with his dogs;
nothing cheers him, darts, tennis, falconry,
his people dying by the balcony;
the bawdry of the pet hermaphrodite
no longer gets him through a single night;
his bed of fleur-de-lys becomes a tomb;
even the ladies of the court, for whom
all kings are beautiful, cannot put on
shameful enough dresses for this skeleton;
the scholar who makes his gold cannot invent
washes to cleanse the poisoned element;
even in baths of blood, Rome's legacy,
our tyrants' solace in senility,
we cannot warm up his shot corpse, whose food
is syrup-green Lethean ooze, not blood.


Slim Pickens
(June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983)



Rain Gauge
John Kinsella

Millpoint throaty guzzler, wishful
choker as dust films throat, to measure up,
squalls with hooks and introversions, bale-hooks,
moebius comeback though sharp and sliced
from the same stretch, to hang up or catch skin
to ripen blood-eating earth, so sharp needles
of rain crosscut, score soil and tease seeds,
to calibrate the empty out and add up,
it says enough but penetration’s not there
and lateral spread, its absorption
which is not a formula of depth, width, impact,
even with the resistance, the failure of soil
to wet, taken into consideration. What factor
has us check the gauge when the crops are in,
when growth is simply about moisture,
to engage the rainmaker, the seeder of air
when airseeders have percolated hectare
after hectare of earth, to balance the equation,
the anti-matter or parallel universe of planting
and growth, the balanced equation of faith
that adds up so each seed sprouting
spites and despites the rain gauge
as if miracles can blossom from the negative?
They can’t, and even moisture from the sea
won’t reconcile tropes and impositions,
and the miracle of rain we might not even see
will be seen in crops and wild grasses,
good foliage on even hardy resistant trees,
less salt in low damp spots—an adjustment
in contradictions, apparent laws
we apparently live by, bothering the gauge
after sleep’s deliberations, blanks, and deletions.

Kinsella at the Electronic Poetry Center

Five Poems
Poetry and Commentary by John Kinsella

Doppler Effect
John Kinsella

Peripheral Light
John Kinsella

On the Necessity of Parrots in Poetry
John Kinsella

Despising nation and patriotism and jingoism as I do, I baulk when I hear that ‘parrots’ are clichés or overused symbols of Australia, particularly the outback. I have a personal history of parrotology, a deep respect for all their varieties, and a fascination for their manifestations in literature, particularly poetry. For me, a parrot isn’t simply a parrot. In the thrust forward to make of Australian poetry some-thing more cosmopolitan, internationalist and sophisticated, there’s been some throwing of the baby out with the bathwater. Arguments of literary maturity are the old cultural cringe stuff reformed as residue, a bit like the cherishing of remnant bushland when all else is reduced to salinity. The parrot becomes a transitional object in this child-nation’s shift from linguistic acquisition to linguistic confidence and exploration.

Arguably, this exploration of linguistic possibilities in poetry — searching for new ways of expressing confidence in identity — is parallel to, or maybe even an extension of, the narratives of exploration that ‘opened up’ land for ‘settler’ use, and sought to reset the co-ordinates (namings, markings, topography and explication) of place, with the aim of creating ‘guilt-free’ occupation. It might well be, disturbingly, a new form of colonisation.


Conte Crayon Drawings
Joseph Stashkevetch


Shrunken Sovereign: Consumerism, Globalization, and American Emptiness
Benjamin R. Barber
author of Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World

There is, to begin with, an accelerating process of internal disintegration—and the engine, consumerism, that drives it. Critics such as David Riesman, Theodor Adorno, and Jean Baudrillard have been writing about conspicuous consumption, keeping up with the Joneses, outer-directed men in gray flannel suits, the dialectic of enlightenment and one-dimensional men since the end of World War II. The story is by now well chronicled: Productivist capitalism, molded by a Protestant ethos conducive to work, investment, deferred gratification, and service, has long since given way to consumerist capitalism, defined by an ethos of infantilization conducive to laxity, impetuousness, narcissism, and consumption. Where once Americans worked harder than almost any other people, today pop commentators such as Thomas Friedman can worry about the “quiet crisis” in which the tendency to “extol consumption over hard work, investment and long-term thinking” creates an America whose vaunted productivity is in decline and where kids “get fat, dumb, and lazy,” squandering the very moral capital the Protestant culture once promoted and sustained. Tellingly, President Bush after 9/11 did not invite Americans to sacrifice or work hard in order to defeat terrorism; he invited them to go shopping.

In the civic realm, meanwhile, hostility to the commonwealth has intensified since the early 1950s, when social science critics such as David B. Truman insisted there was no need to take account of the common good in discussing public interest “because there is no such thing as the public interest.” Politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (the latter asserted that “there is no such thing as society”) were only echoing and reinforcing a powerful skepticism about government and society, a skepticism accompanied in recent years by an astonishing faith in the limitless capacity of markets to “coordinate human behavior or activity with a range and a precision beyond that of any other system, institution, or social process,” as political and economic theorist Charles E. Lindblom has put it.

In this revival of laissez-faire economics and political libertarianism, liberty has acquired an exclusively negative connotation: to be free from.

via Jörg Colberg


Puzzle (Bayone #1)
Joseph Stashkevetch


My Father's House
A Childhood in Wartime Bavaria
Beatrix Ost
tr. from the German by Jonathan McVity and the Author

Where is it written what one gets in life, or what one really needs? The body remembers everything, remembers what happened, too: blows, shoves, drowning, tender gestures, rhythms, screams, whispers. Stench. French kisses. The scent of the hand that pressed itself across your face to stifle a scream remains in your memory forever.

I had not meant to start my cleaning there, not wanted to open the wardrobe I had inherited after Mother’s death, to turn the great key embedded in the embossed door and peer into the dim chaos my eyes would have to adjust to; nor to draw the ribboned packet from the jumble of papers and photo albums; nor be curious; nor even put on the eyeglasses dangling around my neck. What awakened my curiosity was not a chain of events linking one thing with another, but a deeper connection wearing the face of coincidence.

I am in my house in Virginia, holding the sixty-year-old bundle, green heat pressing in from outdoors. A ceiling fan groans above me. For twenty years people have worried it could come crashing down. I take a seat, loosening the knotted rose and yellow ribbon holding the letters together, and pick up the first envelope. Scribbled across it: From the front.

I know this hand from signed documents, and from the end of letters typed with his two middle fingers, closing with the zigzag signature: Your Fritz or Your obedient servant, Fritz Ost. Precipices, nothing round.


from: The Science of Forgetting
Bernadette Mayer and Dave Brinks

Epilogue To A Far Empty Sun or
Eclipse of The Hunger Moon
Out of the eye of thoughtful waking
The open vacuum isn’t erected
A random set of tiny lizards
Surpass one another
Opaque kiwi realities
Of hems, not upscale jewels
“There I am!”
Both London and Callimachus
Can’t erase anything worse
This lack of acorns, empty worlds, gin
Drops the cracking of this sleeping absence
Unfolding forth the rickety chair’s drop cloth
My aunt reveals her self
An off key person cackling like you


Hats banned from Yorkshire pubs


Reckless Calculations: Bataille and the Political Economy of Expenditure
Passion & Excess: Blanchot, Bataille, and Literary Theory
Steven Shaviro

Philip Guston's "Poem-Pictures"


The Secret Clauses of the Liberal Utopia
Slavoj Žižek

Zizek’s Law and Critique Keynote Lecture given at the 2007 Critical Legal Conference at Birkbeck, University of London

via ReadySteadyBlog


A Mesh dedicated to the NPF's 2008 Conference on The Poetry of the 1970s.
A collection of abstracts and some papers from the Orono 70s conference
via Charles Bernstein


Gaston Bachelard
June 27, 1884 – October 16, 1962

Works of Bachelard on-line (in French)

Gaston Bachelard excerpted at google books

The Poetics of Space

The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language and the Cosmos

Psychoanalysis of Fire

Gaston Bachelard: The Hand of Work and Play
Joanne Stroud

Gaston Bachelard and the poetic imagination
Matthew Watts

The Resonant Soul: Gaston Bachelard and the Magical Surface of Air [PDF]
Robert Sardello

"I will therefore, postulate as a principle that in the dream world we do not fly because we have wings; rather, we think we have wings because we have flown. Wings are a consequence. The principle of oneiric flight goes deeper. Dynamic aerial imagination must rediscover this principle."
    - Bachelard, "Air and Dreams"

photographs by Denis Darzacq
text by Amy Barrett-Lennard

via Ordinary finds


Five Dials
Hamish Hamilton
http://www.hamishhamilton.co.uk/ Featuring Iain Sinclair, Alain de Botton, Rachel Lichtenstein and Gustave Flaubert.
designed by Dean Allen

Intentionally easy on the eyes, Five Dials has been put together by a text guru who likes the look of old books and contemplates good design in the wilds of rural France. There are no bells or whistles or hypertext or cyber-denouements or flash-animated advertizements for poker websites hidden inside. The most challenging sights readers will have to deal with are the illustrations, which are drawn from the best artists working in black and white. We’re hoping Five Dials will be a repository for the new, a chance to focus on ideas that might not work elsewhere, a place to witness writers testing new muscles, producing essays, extracts and unexplainables.

Philip Guston
June 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980

1 2 3 4


Of an Obscure Disaster
On the End of the Truth of State
Alain Badiou
translated by Barbara P. Fulks

Democracy triumphs on the ruins of communism, say our prose writers. Or it is going to triumph. The greatest triumphalists evoke the triumph of a "model of civilization." Ours. Nothing less. Those who say "civilization," especially in the form of a triumph, also proclaim the right of the civilized to their gunboats — for those who might not have understood in time on what side the trumpets of triumph sound. The rights of man are no longer a tired intellectual demand. It is the time for rights with muscle, for the right of intervention. Triumphal movements of democratic troops. The need for war, that obligatory correlate of triumphant civilizations. Iraqi deaths, accommodated in silence by millions, even exclusive of any count (and we know to what extent the civilization of which we speak is a counting one...), are only the anonymous remainder of triumphal operations. Shifty Muslims, after all, non-civilized recalcitrants. Because, take note, there is religion, and there is religion. The Christian and his Pope are part of civilization, rabbis are a considerable part, but Mullahs and Ayatollahs would do well to convert.


That the substantial content of every "democracy" is the existence of gigantic and suspect fortunes, that the maxim "get rich!" is the alpha and omega of the epoch, that the brutal materialism of profits is the absolute condition of every respectable member of society — in brief, that ownership is the essence of "civilization" — this is the consensus, after having been, during almost two centuries, the adventurous and slandered theory of the revolutionaries who wanted to end a rather pitiable "civilization." A "Marxism" without proletariat or politics, an economism that puts private wealth at the center of social determination, the rediscovered good conscience of the corrupt, the speculators, the financiers, the governments exclusively preoccupied with supporting the enriching of the rich: there's the vision of the world presented to us under the triumphal banner of civilization.


"If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Emma Goldman
June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940

The Emma Goldman Papers

Anarchism and Other Essays
Emma Goldman


The Breakthrough: Feminism and Literary Criticism
Judith B. Walzer

Feminist criticism as these four writers practice it returns us (or should have) to one of the basic purposes of criticism—to have and defend a reasoned, coherent point of view. These critics have that and use it well. It is neither a rigid dogma, fanatically applied, nor a set of blinders that prevent them from seeing the literary work. None of them is so welded to her theory that the literature before her becomes invisible. And the theory is not obsessive and confining: the work and the writer are always paramount.

Remembering these books should help to rescue the entire critical enterprise from the persistent distractions that threaten to make it irrelevant. These critics know that the realities of life and literature are too engaging, too important, to get stuck out there where there is no subject—except a theory and one’s own self-conscious use of it. This body of work always has a subject outside of itself, a subject that is as relevant today as it was when the books were written. It is worth reading (or re-reading) to see how criticism ought to be practiced.

via Bookninja


The Straddler

The editors of this magazine present you with a document, or let’s say, with documentary materials suggesting that creative minds are in fact creating, and that a public is reading, quoting, criticizing. Put even more simply, our hope is to provide a venue for work that understands the importance of its context. That is, without tossing the rinds and skating away.

Plato’s Cave
Kerry Starbakka

Jean Metzinger
June 24, 1883 – November 3, 1956


“Though we keep company with cats and dogs”:
Onomatopoeia, Glossolalia and Happiness in the work of Lyn Hejinian and Giorgio Agamben
William Watkin

Of course, placed within the context of the poem each of these phrases can begin to be called meaningful, if not actually full of real meaning. Dogs recur, for example, as we shall see, but they also function more importantly as other spaces within the poem’s language where things are given a voice, where language is used purely for semiotic, material pleasure, and so ultimately where language as a thing is also given a voice and denied a voice. In philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s short essay “Pascoli and the Thought of the Voice,” he tackles just such moments of minimal significance in the work of Italian nineteenth century poet Giovanni Pascoli, a poet well known for his use of onomatopoeia and glossolalia, techniques of meaninglessness which, I will go on to show, exist in Hejinian’s work in slightly different ways. In tackling just these elements of a poet’s work, Agamben is trying to understand the significance of words whose signification is either entirely transparent — the bark of a dog, the songs of birds, the proper name Pascoli, Agamben, Hejinian — or permanently opaque — meaningless syllables, nonsense, swearing, internal rhyme, words for their own sake and sobbing. In other words moments where critical thinking is either superfluous or helpless. Many thinkers on language have looked at how it can work and how it can fail, but few if any concern themselves with the implications of a language that works too well, or fails so disastrously that one cannot even read such text or understand such speech acts and there are good reasons for this. Agamben, remarkably, has set himself exactly this brief with his stated general aim to consider the idea that there is language at all, and it brings his idea of poetry, that it exists in the tension between semiotic, spatial demands and semantic demands, directly to bear on Hejinian’s own poetry and theories of poetry.

Pascoli and the Thought of the Voice
Giorgio Agamben
translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen


from Happily
Lyn Hejinian
Nostalgia is another name for one's sense of loss at
          the thought that one has sadly gone along
          happily overlooking something, who knows
Perhaps there were three things, no one of which
          made sense of the other two
A sandwich, a wallet, and a giraffe
Logic tends to force similarities but that's not what we
     mean by "sharing existence"
The matter is incapable of being caused, incapable of
     not being so, condensed into a cause ‹ a bean,
     captive forever
Because this object is so tiny
A store of intellect, a certain ethical potential,
     something that will hold good

Excerpts from My Life
Lyn Hejinian

nights in a time of war
Lyn Hejinian

Lyn Hejinian at PennSound and EPC

Continuing Against Closure
Lyn Hejinian

That the bringing about of closure is often impossible to distinguish from an act of vengeance (as in the carrying out of capital punishment) is, apparently, of no consequence. Which makes a certain sense — closure, by definition, establishes the condition of “no consequence.”
But this means that, if one is committed to consequences (to history, to social responsibility, to the ongoing liveliness of living), one has to be wary, to say the very least, of closure.(....)

Reality is that which is, or can be, shared with other human beings, and it is to be found in spaces of appearance, places where things happen, where things do their thinging.
It is in this context that, though still arguing my case against closure, I can speak in favor of the border, which I would characterize not as a circumscribing margin but as the middle — the intermediary, even interstitial zone that lies between any one country or culture and another, and between any one thing and another.
It’s a zone of alteration, transmutation, a zone of forced forgetting, of confusion, where laws and languages clash, where currency changes value and value changes currency, and where, bumbling along, everyone is a foreigner, Jane to Sam, wolf to donkey, rhapsodist to infant, pigeon to goose.


  By  Abracadabra  we signify
      An infinite number of things.
  'Tis the answer to What? and How? and Why?
  And Whence? and Whither? -- a word whereby
      The Truth (with the comfort it brings)
  Is open to all who grope in night,
  Crying for Wisdom's holy light.

  Whether the word is a verb or a noun
      Is knowledge beyond my reach.
  I only know that 'tis handed down.
          From sage to sage,
          From age to age --
      An immortal part of speech!

The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce
June 24, 1842 – 1914(?)

John Latta

I did, belatedly, complete Oakley Hall’s stupendous Warlock—“The human animal is set apart from other beasts by his infinite capacity for creating fictions.” I did, too, obtain a couple of other Hall books, eye out for the neglect’d. One (of a series) with the Mexico-disparu’d journalist Ambrose Bierce in the role of detective. (Pause to consider the legions drain’d away—permanent or temporary—into the blue Mexican dusk, its long mauve feints and slants: B. Traven, Leon Trotsky, Malcolm Lowry, the inestimable Mr. Pynchon again, with Life magazine shutterbugs in hot pursuit. Bierce trying to join the insurgent Pancho Villa.) Bierce’s fine black core spit cleanly forth in The Devil’s Dictionary:
The finished product of which we are the raw material. The contents of the Taj Mahal, the Tombeau Napoleon and the Grantarium.
I did return to the tumult of the untend’d, fetch the doggo home, breeze a little with the neighbor who’s busy again hacking out Bishop’s weed, the blighter. Summer’s work is to ease away under the cover of frantic light and the confluence of gassy hysteria and quid pro quo ombudsmanship, and ease back in with a pout and a boater. That’s summer’s work. An anti-method. A voluntary voluptuousness without realm or target. (Jamming a little whilst I nose around the precincts, see if anything’s changed.)

from A Border Comedy
Lyn Hejinian

We share in the capacity of narrative to submit to the desires of this or that mind
Without giving up its secrets
And speak when no one answers
I think, the Nightingale Girl said to the Singing Man
That time requires anecdotes to contradict it
No answer
Time longs undividedly for something
We'll wait
For an uninterrupted look at the border ghost
The interpretation
The pass
Keeping the secret through the sequence
Not only through adventures but fairly out of this world
Given and between
There the dragonfly clings
And to this day more people live in countries than in cities
Where they know the names and habits of both visible and hidden birds
Being familiar with their practices
Their sounds
Crowded together like gossip
With its transitional and terminal motifs
And then dispersed


2001 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Photographer: Dane Penland
Smithsonian on Flickr


back issues of Words Without Borders

Bug Fashion
Natacha Gagnon

Utata: Tribal Photography

Greg Fallis on the legacey of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
From the green battlefields of 19th century Europe, to the barns and fields of farmers worldwide, to the asphalt parking lots of Canada. These boots have come a long way on a strange trip, and I doubt the trip will end anytime soon.

"From time to time the fervently poeticizing prose writer stepped up to the piano in order to melodiously recover from the strain of his literary profession."-Robert Walser ("Der Knirps")
Composition for Robert Walser
Tom Whalen
When I sit at my desk to write and I end up with a brush in my hand and bristol board before me rather than paper, Walser's improvisatory spirit is always near. The "jazzy oscillations" (Christopher Middleton) of Walser's art free me to follow the gesture of a line, the dynamics of color. The more I look, the more I perceive. Possibilities reveal themselves—suggestions of form, figures that might be animal, mineral, vegetable, but which I often anthropomorphize in my mind, not unlike, perhaps, the way Walser anthropomorphizes his landscapes. "Yes, everything appeared a bit pensive. All the surrounding colors appeared to be gently and sweetly dreaming. The houses resembled slumbering children, and the sky lay, friendly and weary, upon all things" (The Assistant).

Possibly all I'm doing is noodling on Walser's figurative piano, recovering from the strain of my own sleepless prose by emptying my mind of words—until, that is, I have to give a name to what I've done. But the important thing (look again at the visual aspect of Walser's microscripts) is to try to do, like the carriers of Barthelme's Dead Father, "amazing things with our hands." In "Thoughts on Cézanne," a late text (drafted, then, in microscript), Walser underlines the hand's importance: "One could justly insist that he made the most extensive use, bordering on the inexhaustible, of the suppleness and the compliance of his hands" (Selected Stories). The master's hands are supple, yes, masterful, but they also resemble the Walser servant figure who wants nothing more than to comply and enter, in his servitude and humility, the realm of "the most enchanting oblivion," as Walser writes in "Poets" (Selected Stories).


c. 1850
MoMA Photography Collection


The Found Photograph and the Limits of Meaning
Barry Mauer

Despite displacement and poverty, my grandmother hung on to her photographs, but countless others lose their photographs with the passage of years and the disruptions of history. What happens when these lost photographs are found by a stranger?

The goal of this essay is to explore the challenges posed to our sense-making apparatus by three stages in the life of found photographs: their original context in the family photo album, their loss and discovery, and their recontextualization in the museum exhibit. It is based on a personal story that began over ten years ago.(....)

As a detective, I am interested in finding truth, but found photographs present a problem for the detective—polysemy. Some photographic details signify too many things and it is impossible to establish a "correct" inference. At this point, another attitude takes over—a surrealist one. In contrast to the detective, who aims to rule out certain explanations (ideally arriving at one "true" interpretation), the Surrealist purposefully tries to multiply meanings. For the Surrealist, the signifier itself, loosened from the signifying system, takes priority over the signified. I have become increasingly interested in fragmentary details within particular found photographs. Only recently, after years of examining the photograph above, did I notice the objects on the table in front of the woman. An obscure white-on-black shape became more apparent as I enlarged the scanned image on my computer screen. A pirate’s hat with a skull and crossbones design appeared. I immediately recognized (or perhaps misrecognized) the object adjacent to it as a family photo album. What significance do these objects have? Do they indicate that the woman was revisiting her past through old photos and reminiscing over part of a child’s pirate costume? Or was clutter lying around because of a recent visit by children? My explanation of these details is plausible but not certain. Such details can elicit what Roland Barthes calls the "third meaning," which, according to Robert Ray, is "a reading that fixates on contingent details whose precise meaning eludes, at least temporarily, all available symbolic systems" . Photography, for Barthes, registers a partially illegible world that cannot be subordinated to language. Instead, photography makes available a different kind of reading, an "erotics of the image" that attends to surfaces, subverts language and leads to a kind of delirium; we want to say everything about this photograph, yet no matter what we say it resists final meaning.


Translation Studies and Agamben's Theory of the Potential
Paolo Bartoloni


avant-garde poetry on the radio

Ceptuetics Radio
Hosted by Kareem Estefan
Episodes 1-20

Penn Sound Daily Rss Feed

via Nick Piombino (fait accompli )


And I do not need to tell you
what a crowd of excited Christians
is capable of doing
The Lazarus Project
related photos

The Lazarus Project
Aleksandar Hemon

Review by Maud Newton

Hemon has always drawn on his own experiences in fiction, and Brik's quest has a real-life counterpart. Several years ago the author traveled with an old photographer friend to retrace Averbuch's path. In the book at least, the search is not merely for the facts of one man's life, but for more complex truths about life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

Hemon's characters eschew the notion that truth is tidy, or literal. Being with Rora makes Brik wistful for Sarajevo before the war. Then there was "a kind of unspoken belief that everyone could be whatever they claimed they were - each life, however imaginary, could be validated by its rightful, sovereign owner, from the inside."


Manuel Silva Acevedo
Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky

Don’t speak to me of liquidity, I’m consumptive,
debts and more debts accumulate
     in columns of fear.

words without borders

The Game is Over. There Won't be a Rebound
An Interview with Michael Hudson on the Economy
Mike Whitney

... when a bubble bursts, time makes things worse. The financial sector has been living in the short run for quite a while now, and I suspect that a lot of money managers are planning to get out or be fired now that the game is over. And it really is over.(....)

In academic economic terms, America has never been in as “optimum” a position as it is today. That’s the bad news. An optimum position is, mathematically speaking, one in which you can’t move without making your situation worse. That’s the position we’re now in. There’s nowhere to move – at least within the existing structure. “The market” can’t be stabilized, because it was artificial to begin with, based on fictitious prices. It’s hard to impose fiction on reality for very long, and the rest of the world has woken up.

In times past, bankruptcy would have wiped out the bad debts. The problem with debt write-offs is that bad savings go by the boards too. But today, the very wealthy hold most of the savings, so the government doesn’t want to have them take a loss. It would rather wipe out pensioners, consumers, workers, industrial companies and foreign investors. So debts will be kept on the books and the economy will slowly be strangled by debt deflation.


Truth But No Consequences
Chris Floyd

Keeping America Safe
Prosecuting Children as Terrorists
Dave Lindorff


George Carlin
(May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008)



The majority of Americans do not feel a thing about these state orchestrated persecutions of their fellow citizens. They do not feel anything because they are afraid to allow themselves to feel outrage. And because their government has conditioned them not to feel public anger. There are social consequences (being an outcast) for speaking such things aloud. There are even more consequences for acting upon those feelings. The citizenry is deeply afraid of those consequences. The bottom line is that they are afraid of their government.
    - Joe Bageant

Niagara Suspension Bridge
William England
MoMA Photography Collection


John Cage
I         never         had         a         hat,
        wore         one,
                           but         recently
was         given         a         brown         suede
        duck-hunting         hat.
        moment         I         put         it
on                             I         realized
   I         was         starved         for         a
                                   I          kept
   it          warm          by          putting
   it          on          my          head.

           I          made          plans          to
        wear          it          especially
when          I          was          going          to
         do          any          thinking.

                        Somewhere          in         
             I          lost          my           hat.

Rasmus Norlander


Green Hermeticism

Endarkenment Manifesto
Peter Lamborn Wilson

Obfuscatory, reactionary and superstitious, Endarkenment offers jobs for trolls and sylphs, witches and warlocks. Perhaps only superstition can re-enchant Nature. People who fear and desire nymphs and fauns will think twice before polluting streams or clear-cutting forests.


Electricity banished shadows—but shadows are “shades,” souls, the souls of light itself. Even divine light, when it loses its organic and secret darkness, becomes a form of pollution. In prison cells electric lights are never doused; light becomes oppression and source of disease.

Endarkenment stands socially for the Cro-Magnon or “Atlantaean” complex—anarchist because prior to the State—for horticulture and gathering against agriculture and industry—for the right to hunt as against the usurpation of commons by lord or State. Electricity and internal combustion should be turned off along with all States and corporations and their cult of Mammon and Moloch.


Despite our ultimate aim we’re willing to step back bit by bit. We might be willing to accept steam power or hydraulics. The last agreeable year for us was 1941, the ideal is about 10,000 BC, but we’re not purists. Endarkenment is a form of impurism, of mixture and shadow.


TV Church
Joe Wolek

via gmtPlus9 (-15)


.. in our age what is an author? An author is often only an x, even when his name is signed, something quite impersonal, which addresses itself abstractly, by the aid of printing, to thousands and thousands, while remaining itself unseen and unknown, living a life as hidden, as anonymous, as it is possible for a life to be, in order, presumably, not to reveal the too obvious and striking contradiction between the prodigious means of communication employed and the fact that the author is only a single individual - perhaps also for fear of the control which in practical life must always be exercised over everyone who wishes to teach others, to see whether his personal existence comports with his communication....
    -   Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard's "Mystery Of Unrighteousness" In The Information Age
Brian T. Prosser and Andrew Ward
"The world's fundamental misfortune," the 19th century Søren Kierkegaard writes, "is ...the fact that with each great discovery ...the human race is enveloped ... in a miasma of thoughts, emotions, moods, even conclusions and intentions, which are nobody's, which belong to none and yet to all." The great discoveries to which Kierkegaard is referring are made possible by the use of technology, and part of his concern is that the use of technology often results in human beings having "destitute" relations to one another. As exemplified for Kierkegaard by the popular press, the uses of technologies not only transform face-to-face relationships, they create masks behind which people hide from one another. It is this latter point that is especially important. For Kierkegaard, what ultimately drives people toward certain technological practices is fear. "What rules the world," Kierkegaard writes, "is... the fear of humanity. Therefore this fear of being an individual and this proneness to hide under one abstraction or another.... Ultimately an abstraction is related to fantasy, and fantasy becomes an enormous power... [T]he human race became afraid of itself, fosters the fantastic, and then trembles before it." The use of technology to mediate communication, claims Kierkegaard, provides people with the means to escape, or at least hide from those aspects of interpersonal relationships they most fear...

Art is going elsewhere. An interview with Jacques Rancière [PDF]
Sudeep Dasgupta

The reflections of the French philosopher Jacques Rancière shift in between literature, film, pedagogy, historiography, proletarian history and philosophy. He came to prominence when he contributed to Althusser’s Lire le capital (1965) and, shortly after, published a fervent critique of Althusser – La Leçon d’Althusser (1974). He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at University of Paris VIII (St. Denis) and continues to teach, as a visiting professor, in a number of universities, including Rutgers, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Berkeley. A recurrent motif in Rancière’s work is capturing the relation between politics and aesthetics, and their various meanings in different contexts. Much of his work can be characterized as an attempt to rethink and subvert categories, disciplines and discourses. On October 30 2007, a Dutch combined translation of Le partage du sensible and L’inconscient esthétique was presented in Amsterdam. On this occasion Sudeep Dasgupta interviewed Rancière on sensory experience, the play of art, and politics as a form of disturbance.
"the first bilingual online edition of Krisis, journal for contemporary philosophy, after having appeared in print, and in Dutch, for 27 years."

via Continental Philosophy


Beatrice Jansen

viaMrs. Deane


Historiographic poetics is a response to the question what one might do in order to listen and talk with ghosts.
Remembrance As Praxis And The Ethics Of The Inter-Human1
Roger I. Simon, Mario DiPaolantonio, Mark Clamen
Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted.
      (Franz Kafka)

To be an I means then not to be able to escape responsibility, as though the whole edifice of creation rested on my shoulders.
      (Emmanuel Levinas)


One consequence of the recent ‘turn to ethics’ in social and political thought has been a return to the question of what it could mean to live historically, to live within an upright2 attentiveness to traces of those who have inhabited times and places other than one’s own. Substantively, this is manifest in the problem of how one attends to the experiences of others: how one reads, how one views and how one listens. These are not simply pre-given capacities but are historically specific normalized practices which, in any given epoch, are ingrained in what it means to live in consort with others, to live as though the lives of other people mattered.

How one responds in the face of the demand to read, view and listen counts for something, indeed counts for a great deal. Thus, our overriding question: what practices of response to the testamentary demand for non-indifference might enable an opening into learning? Learning here is understood not solely in terms of acquisition of previously unheard of, unknown facts and stories, but as well an opening of the present in which identities and identifications, the frames of certitude that ground our understandings of existence, and one’s responsibilities to history are displaced and rethought. In other words, how might remembrance be understood as a praxis creating the possibilities of new histories and altered subjectivities (Fraser, 1999)? The consequence of such learning extends to reworking notions of community, identity, embodiment, and relationship. This is a move toward a hopeful yet risk-laden learning that seeks to accomplish a shift of one’s ego boundaries, that displaces engagements with the past and contemporary relations with others out of the inescapably violent and violative confines of the ‘I’, to a receptivity to others, to (in Jacques Derrida’s terms) a ‘welcome’ of the other’s difficult, onerous approach. On such terms remembrance enacts possibilities for an ethical learning that impels us into a confrontation and reckoning not only with stories of the past but also with ourselves as we are (historically, existentially, socially) in the present.

In his essay ‘The Storyteller,’ Walter Benjamin (1968: 86) referred to counsel as, ‘less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding.’ For Benjamin, in order to seek and receive counsel one would first have to be able to tell this unfolding story. On such terms, for the lives of others to truly matter - beyond what they demand in the way of an immediate, necessary practical solidarity - they must be encountered as counsel. These would be stories that might actually initiate a de-phasing, a potential shifting of our own unfolding stories, particularly in ways that might be unanticipated and not easily accepted. Benjamin was attempting in this essay to reflect on the erosion of the very possibility of the exchange of experience. For him, this was actually being prevented by the proliferation of news reports and mass dissemination of stories and images that accompanied the media meditated transmission of experiences. Benjamin thought the link between memory and experience was being threatened within what he termed a ‘phantasmagoric’ flow of information that resulted in an age well informed about itself but at the same time knowing very little. Missing was the ‘wisdom’ of experience, its non-indifference, its transitivity. That is, the possibility that the telling of a story would actually make a difference in the way one’s own stories were told, either by opening one’s existing narratives to assessment and revision or by influencing one’s actions. This inability to ‘experience’ the transitivity of the stories of others (something other than simply being able to read/hear and recount them) is an historical condition. And it is to the conceptualization of this condition that we now wish to turn.


The Storyteller [PDF]
Walter Benjamin


Rigid Terrain
Joe Wolek

Opened by Customs
Kurt Schwitters

Murder Machine
Kurt Schwitters
tr. Harriet Watts

Welcome, 260 thousand cubic centimeters.
I yours.
You mine,
We me.
And sun eternity glitter stars.
Suffering suffers dew.
Oh, woe you me !
5,000 mark reward !
A crate is crooked, especially your crate.
There is no more property, only communism still
acknowledges property.
I wilt the reed, for there is no more reed.
I left the clock, for there is no more clock.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, seven.
Sunday greens warmth.
The elephant.
The fat elephant.
In case more than one person should lay claim to the
reward, we shall retain the rights of distribution
admitting of no appeal.
The magistrate of the royal capital and residence.

courtesy of Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking

Merz 163
Kurt Schwitters
(20 June 1887 - 8 January 1948)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Performed by Kurt Schwitters

The Merzbarn Project And Kurt Schwitters In England

The Merzbook: Kurt Schwitters Poems
Colin Morton

... narrative poem loosely based on the life and art of the renowned modern German collage artist, Kurt Schwitters.

Historias Oficiales - Official Stories
Carla Herrera-Prats

In this same room, a second timeline, drawn with chalk over green walls, depicted the indexes of the textbooks. This material made obvious references to elementary education. Its impermanency invited the viewer to think on the practical possibility of changing the way history has been written and taught. Yellow highlights on these chalk indexes indicated whenever students had been presented material of pre-Hispanic civilizations. Each revision followed the way pedagogues from consecutive generations surmised the most efficient and appropriate cultural knowledge from which to learn and the appropriate methodologies to do so. A major transformation in the seventies is the realization that a student might learn better from the past through a process of identification from a moment in the present. Hence the curricula changed from the description of a great variety of pre-Hispanic civilizations to a more personal appropriation of fewer of them. But what happen to the rest? Erased from the books these civilizations and their costumes perish in the eyes of the students. During the latest revision of the History course's curricula, the biggest modification happened in the middle school textbooks. The decision was to simply erase revisions from the pre-Hispanic past. Consequently students are only taught about their indigenous inheritance almost entirely during their third year of elementary school.
Invisible Culture - Issue 12: The Archive of the Future / The Future of the Archive


The political unconscious: narrative as a socially symbolic act
Frederic Jameson
download link here


Torsten Warmuth


A Tribute To Keith Wilson
Duende Poetry Series
Placitas, New Mexico
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Bobby Byrd

Welcome, as Jerome Rothenberg would say, to the Paradise of Poets. Welcome, as Gertrude Stein might say, to the continuous now of poetry. We are here today to honor poet Keith Wilson, and by our presence, the radiant beast of poetry survives. We nourish her by making our poems, we nourish her by reading the poems of others, by hearing aloud the poems of others, by buying books of poems and by sharing these poems and talking about these poems and the poetics that we discover in these poems.

It’s a peculiar idea, thinking of poetry as a creature of biology, an ethereal animal made of words and ideas and rhythms of language and culture. An animal that was birthed in the chants and drumbeats of our collective pre-history and which continues to breathe the air of our contemporary wanderings through, and experiments with, our language. I began learning about this idea when I was school at the University of Arizona in Tucson, 1963 to 1965. Keith and Heloise Wilson were kind enough to invite me into their home and there I discovered a household of poetry. It was a unique place. The idea of poetry and art as community and as a continuous thread of understanding seeped into my mind and heart.

via Al Filreis


Bernd Kleinheisterkamp

Gary Sauer-Thompson


Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau: The Desiring House
Jaleh Mansoor

While Schwitters never exchanged the paint, canvas, or brush for photography or the readymade, or any other form related to modernity, industrialization, and mass reception (forms with which other avant-gardists were struggling), he nonetheless stripped those traditional tools of their purity and integrity. By crossing them with the very materials and processes they were meant to transcend—the organic, the industrial—he inaugurates a practice unbounded by object category or classification, what Deleuze would identify as a kind of “anorganic vitalism.” What is at stake is a particular self-driven economy of work indifferent to its product. This is already evident in Schwitters’s collage work of the early and mid teens, the Merzbilder. To think of the Merzbau in terms of architecture would shift the focus onto questions of architectural specificity and its limits, thereby obscuring the problem at hand: the centrality of a process undetermined by ends, objects or products. A comparison of the economy driving Schwitters’s collage production to that of Picasso’s cubist collage presents the problem more clearly.

“I am a painter and I nail my pictures together.” In a 1924 issue of Merz, entitled G, Schwitters discussed poetry and painting together:

The end pursued by poetry is pursued, logically, by Dadaist painters who, in their pictures, evaluate object against object by sticking or nailing them down side by side. Things may be evaluated in this way rather than they are when signified by words.
Here, the dyadic and vertical relationship between the material signifier and the signified is exchanged for a laterally oriented cutting and dividing of a particular signifying chain in conjunction with equally horizontal and incommensurable chains. In other words, in Schwitter’s system, poetry’s logical conclusion is painting. And, in a step counter to either Modernism or Dadaism, painting’s logical conclusion is the process of assemblage: the cutting, nailing and sticking together of objects. Language (poetry) and matter (the pictorial surface and paint) become mutually interchangeable as though they shared a common denominator otherwise hidden from aesthetic understanding. The specificity or integrity of any one medium is exchanged for the mutable space of production, the production of production itself. Language and materiality meet on another register: an imminent fabric of relations determined by cutting and connecting, production and passage. Each disciplinary practice (painting, poetry, labor) is cut, redirected and woven together along the common circuit of process: the nailing and affixing that cuts a material (including language in its material vocal and textual aggregation) and assure its flow and connection to an other material or language.

A question nevertheless remains. If Schwitters insists on transverse or transfinite connections and interruptions in a field of composition and decomposition, where do Schwitters’ practices meet? How can one, looking back on Merz, trace the generative logic or motivation, the gravity of its build-up of work?


Johan Rosenmunthe

via la main gauche

Markku Lahdesmaki

via Heading East


After Rain
P.K. Page

The snails have made a garden of green lace:
broderie anglaise from the cabbages,
chantilly from the choux-fleurs, tiny veils-
I see already that I lift the blind
upon a woman's wardrobe of the mind.

Such female whimsy floats about me like
a kind of tulle, a flimsy mesh,
while feet in gumboots pace the rectangles-
garden abstracted, geometry awash-
an unknown theorem argued in green ink,
dropped in the bath.
Euclid in glorious chlorophyll, half drunk.

I none too sober slipping in the mud
where rigged with guys of rain
the clothes-reel gauche
as the rangy skeleton of some
gaunt delicate spidery mute
is pitched as if
while hung from one thin rib
a silver web-
its infant, skeletal, diminutive,
now sagged with sequins, pulled ellipsoid,

I suffer shame in all these images.

Page bibliography

The Pilgrimage
(the world of Jindrich Pilecek)


Three Meditations on Silence
Rodney Hall


As he died, the greatest of dying composers on that day and for many a day to come, lay in bed shut off from any word of comfort. All afternoon the mantel clock ticked but he would need to have opened his eyes to know, the hour hand reaching five when a massive storm broke over the spires of the city. Hail clattered across the roof, blocking the drains and dancing on his windowledge. He heard nothing of it. His communications were with memory. His disgruntlements with childhood. After the strings and woodwind dimmed to whispers (and stayed like that) his last resource had been percussion and the greatest of all percussion instruments, the pianoforte. He had stuck his head in under the angled lid like a man submitting to the guillotine. Right by his elbow on a bedside table the dints in a large brass trumpet were dimpled by lightning flashes, a trumpet not for the lips but the ear, a perverse instrument to take sounds in rather than give them out, a humble humiliating detestable and ugly contraption — made in segments so it could be collapsed into its own bell and packed flat for travelling — now wrenched crooked from rough handling, set ready on his bedside table. Set ready for him though he was beyond bothering, beyond being reached.



Markku Lahdesmaki


The State of Exception (May We Awaken)
Phil Cubeta responds to Scott Horton's A Setback for the State of Exception

Fascism can be defined as rule by one who is above the law, through a ceremonial constitution, responsive to corporate interests, demonizing enemies, and ruling by fear, propaganda, surveillance, and secret force. Has Obama spoken out against this? Hillary?(....)

As times get tougher, how sad it would be if those who have the most work through a strong man to shift more and more of the pain and blame to those who have least. The real terror in America is the terror felt by our leaders when they contemplate the American people rising up against them to take our country back, and to restore the Constitution that has served us so well. May protest be peaceful, however violent is the oppression, the extra-legal ferocity of the plunderer, in the state of exception. The mass corporate media can hold it together awhile longer, but when the food shortages and gas lines kick in, Americans will be looking for someone to blame. I would suggest we start by restoring the rule of law. With the Constitution toggled to the off position, our leaders would be usupers.

Excuse, me, I hear bootsteps in the hall.


Torture "is basically subject to perception," CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials gathered at the U.S.-run detention camp in Cuba on Oct. 2, 2002, according to minutes of the meeting. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."
   washington post

Harvard’s Gitmo Kangaroo Law School — The School for Torturers
Francis A. Boyle


New at Ubuweb

The Violence of the Image (2004)

Jean Baudrillard thinking and talking about the violence of the image,aggression, oppression, transgression,regression, effects and causes of violence, violence of the virtual, 3d, virtual reality, transparency, psychological and imaginary.
An open Lecture given by Jean Baudrillard after his seminar for the students at the European Graduate School, EGS Media and Communication Program Studies Department, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Europe, in 2004.
All Avant-Garde All The Time -Tellus Cassettography
Produced by The Poetry Foundation, UbuWeb is pleased to announce the latest in its podcast series, focusing on Ubu's hidden treasures. This podcast gives a guided tour of UbuWeb's collection of the Tellus Cassette Magazines comprising nearly 1,000 MP3 files recorded between 1983 and 1993. This podcast features narrated selections from the series including Louise Lawler, Jerome Rothenberg, Gregory Whitehead, Glenn Branca, Harry Partch and Paul Bowles.

The great Ubuweb
Essentially a gift economy, poetry is the perfect space to practice utopian politics. Freed from profit-making constraints or cumbersome fabrication considerations, information can literally "be free": on UbuWeb, we give it away and have been doing so since 1996. We publish in full color for pennies. We receive submissions Monday morning and publish them Monday afternoon. UbuWeb's work never goes "out of print." UbuWeb is a never-ending work in progress: many hands are continually building it on many platforms.

UbuWeb has no need for money, funding or backers. Our web space is provided by an alliance of interests sympathetic to our vision. Donors with an excess of bandwidth contribute to our cause. All labour and editorial work is voluntary; no money changes hands. Totally independent from institutional support, UbuWeb is free from academic bureaucracy and its attendant infighting, which often results in compromised solutions; we have no one to please but ourselves.

UbuWeb posts much of its content without permission; we rip out-of-print LPs into sound files; we scan as many old books as we can get our hands on; we post essays as fast as we can OCR them. UbuWeb is an unlimited resource with unlimited space to fill. It is in this way that the site has grown to encompass hundreds of artists, hundreds of gigabytes of sound files, books, texts and videos.

Sounds like a marginal situation? Hardly. We've won many prestigious internet awards and are acknowledged web-wide as the definitive source for Visual, Concrete + Sound Poetry. UbuWeb is on the syllabus of countless schools; we've gotten queries from Ph.D. candidates seeking information to third-graders researching a paper on concrete poetry. UbuWeb embodies an unstable community, neither vertical nor horizontal but rather a Deleuzian nomadic model: a 4-dimensional space simultaneously expanding and contracting in every direction, growing "rhizomatically" with ever-increasing unpredictability and uncanniness.

      The Editors


Bernadette Mayer and the Capitalization of Everyday Life
Jasper Bernes reports on the National Poetry Foundation Conference "Poetry of the 1970s," June 11-15


Sympathy for the Republicans

into the Secret's secret
Saddam crowdsourcing Tarkus

pale crowds shall rush the aegis
a HyperMart under siege

dogcart of the taant dugongs
who zigged when they should of zagged

TaKinG thE BriM_ TooK thE BrOoM

Jindrich Pilecek


Magic Splinter
Pia Tafdrup
Translated from the Danish by David McDuff

That figure, who one windless day
hangs sleeping
with its head against its shoulder
slumped askew
on a white plastic chair
out on the patio, is it really
my father?
He so badly wants to tell me
what he has forgotten.
I bring perennials
we’re going to plant
outside his window
in that little speck of earth
called “the park”.
My father brightens up—
he plants and waters,
but doesn’t grasp
for one thousand-splintered moment
that my parents aren’t alive any more.

Pia Tafdrup Poems [PDF]
The Literary Review - Spring 2008
New Danish Writing: Voices from The Blue Port & Beyond


Goodbye Rousseau and Locke, hello Oprah
Joe Bageant

Like it or not, hoss, citizenship in the old Greco-Roman, Thomas Paine, Jack Curtin, Frank Church, Ephialtean and Periclesian sense rests in a grave alongside Rousseau and Locke. From that vantage point they are privileged to look up and see the CEOs of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Citicorp wipe their asses on the remaining scraps of Rousseau's social contract.

Anyway, media is now the true environment for the average person, much more so than nature itself, which has taken up residence on The Nature Channel. Goodbye French Revolution, goodbye rough hewn America liberty. Goodbye jolly swagman camped by the billabong -- all the real men, the blood and guts patriots who would have never stood for this kind of shit, they have gone a'waltzing Matilda. What's left are the dregs. Otherwise known as consumers. And that includes you and me.

So go out and buy something.


Legal Environment of Digital Curation
Report from the DCC Workshop
Angus Whyte


This is a report from the Legal Environment of Digital Curation workshop held at Glasgow University on November 23, 2007. The event provided an overview of legal considerations for non-legal professionals who work with data, focusing especially on intellectual property rights and licensing, data protection, freedom of information and privacy, and data as evidence. The workshop was organised in conjunction with the SCRIPT-ed journal of law and technology, and supported by JISC, the AHRC and Edinburgh University.

International Journal of Digital Curation


Over 8,000,000 Mozilla Firefox 3 Downloads in 24 Hours

La Jetée
Chris Marker


Awaiting Oblivion
Maurice Blanchot
translated by John Gregg
downloadable here

He would have liked to have the right to say to her, "Stop speaking, if you want me to hear you." But at present, even saying nothing, she could no longer keep silent.

He understood quite well that she had possibly forgotten everything. That did not bother him. He wondered if he did not want to take possession of what she knew; more by forgetting than by remebering. But forgetting ... It was necessary that he, too, enter into forgetting.

+ "Why do you listen to me as you do? Why, even when you speak, do you keep listening? Why to you attract in me these words that I must then say? And never do you answer; never do you make something of yourself heard. But I will say nothing; be aware of this. What I say is nothing."

Undoubtedly she wanted him to repeat what she had said, merely repeat it. But never did she recognize her words in mine. Did I unwittingly change somethin in them? Did something change on their way from her to me?

In a low voice for himself, in a lower voice for him. An utterance that must be repeated before it has been heard, a traceless murmer that he follows, wandering nowhere, residing everywhere, the necessity of letting it go.

It is always the ancient word that wants to be here again without speaking.

+ It is not a fiction, although he is incapable of pronouncing the word truth in connection with all of that. Something happened to him, and he can say neither that it was true, nor the contrary. Later, he thought that the event consisted in this manner of being neither true nor false.

+ Poor room, have you ever been lived in? How cold it is here, how little I live in you. Don't I remain here only so that I can efface all the traces of my stay?

Time and time agian, walking and always marking time, another country, other cities, other roads, the same country.


Chris Marker


Chris Marker / Notes
Gavin Keeney

It is this concept of 'immemory' that carries the metaphorical weight of Marker's entire philosophy of the slippage given to images, photographic and mnemonic. Like the films of Russian maestro Andrei Tarkovsky, whom Marker made a documentary of in the mid-1980s (following Tarkovsky’s film Sacrifice, and while Tarkovsky was dying of brain cancer), it is not a matter of symbols indexing a parallel world but of an irreal dimension within artistic signs that points to the return of the Real. Any literal, historical content is ultimately lost in both, as what emerges is an internal ordering that is marked by this very immemorial (forgotten and/or half-remembered) quality that opens the space of alterity, a path to the consciousness of the other within one's own psyche, but also a path outside of mere being.

It is, then, a case for anamnesis -- for Platonic recovery of the lost and/or recondite, and for de-naturalizing memory per se toward another form of naturalization within the apparatus of cultural presence and its archival double as artistic artifact. If this is the true meaning of the idea of historicity -- as Marker's work is highly suggestive of the interweaving of political, psychic, and temporal phenomena -- it is the open and unanswerable question regarding what it means to be historical (to exist within a milieu that elides the simple configurations of being, such as 'I' or its other) that is paradoxically answered by Marker's still photography.

Marker's Rolleiflex, deployed in the streets of Paris in 1968, and the subsequent editing and digital altering of these images (making them hyper-real), plus their inclusion in the retrospective exhibitions noted above, as complex, places the personal in a register that begins to both account for the ineluctable reduction that passes through things and events as they pass into works of art, and the compounded and folded liminality of all archives (personal and otherwise), arguable a profoundly disturbing and potentially redemptive zone within cultural production, produced and substantiated as subjectivity and objectivity collide and both vanish as mutually-determined and mutually-contracted fatalities.


Gay Lussac
Chris Marker
(Paris, May 1968)

Chris Marker: Staring Back


New Beauty
John Tranter


Being viewed as the combination of beauty and ugliness
is a debilitating affliction: with a false face
and a different coat you would try to deceive them
and the more interested they are your role
in the music store, the more they want to sound like
something that’s already popular and thus out of date.
Fashion has to change: that’s its essence. One day
enduring values reign, then around the Pacific rim,

an SQL battle — structured query language
pestering the database for more and better data.
Then again, you may get sacked; then where’s your
cocky prognostication? Knee-deep in bullshit, a failure

recorded over the navy’s default sonar ping on dolls
and the airplane to you is that person, not America.

the international literary magazine
Issue 1

via NewPages Blog


M. C. Escher
(June 17, 1898 – March 27, 1972)


The Wolfman [Found] in Translation
Emily Apter

With Penguin’s ambitious initiative (under the editorial direction of Adam Phillips), to re-translate Freud with multiple translators, we become newly attuned to the theoretical implications of Freud’s German word-choice; its impact on the conceptual armature of psychoanalysis. Re-translating Freud must have been a daunting prospect, for it seems clear that despite its flaws, the James Strachey “Standard Edition” enjoys a monumental status, comparable to the King James Bible or the Scott Montcrieff/Terence Kilmartin Proust. Alongside Strachey’s Freud, I would place Jacques Derrida’s translation of Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry, and the gloss on this translation that became his doctoral thesis: The Problem of Genesis in Husserl’s Philosophy. With examples like this, where theory is generated out of the work of translation, I would also include Paul de Man’s essay on Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator” in which he advances a theory of the “inhumanism of language as such” by “correcting” the mistranslations of Benjamin’s essay in its English and French versions by Harry Zohn, Maurice de Gandillac and even Derrida.

To re-translate is to theorize: perhaps the most pertinent example of translation as theory is found in Jacques Lacan’s return to Freud.(....)

Whether the stakes are as ambitious as a reinterpretation of the Freudian subject from the ground up, or as modest as renewed attention to Freudian locutions that resonate differently in translation, there is no question that Freud’s writings warrant examination through the lens of translation theory. I have argued in The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature, that translation theory is structured around principles posed at opposite extremes: At one end you have the idea that “everything is translatable” — digitally and informationally convertible according to a universal measure, and the linguistic laws of adequatio. At the other end you have the idea that “Nothing is translatable;” there will always exist an untranslatable remainder that eludes commensurability, an incontournable element of the foreign.


Les Statues meurent aussi
Alain Resnais - Chris Marker

1 2 3

Chris Marker: Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
Blog devoted to Chris Marker

Happy Bloomsday

Bachelor's Walk, Dublin
from the Ha'Penny Bridge
A Gallery of Bloomsday Cards
T. E. Kennelly

"By Bachelor's Walk jogjaunty jingled Blazes Boylan, bachelor, in sun, in heat, mare's glossy rump atrot, with flick of whip on bouncing tyres..."

The Internet Ulysses by James Joyce
edited by Jorn Barger

Marilyn reads Ulysses


But it is precisely modernity that is always quoting primeval history. This happens through the ambiguity attending the social relationships and products of this epoch. Ambiguity is the pictorial image of dialectics, the law of dialectics seen at a standstill. This standstill is utopia and the dialectical image therefore a dream image. Such an image is presented by the pure commodity: as fetish. Such an image are the arcades, which are both house and stars. Such an image is the prostitute, who is saleswoman and wares in one.
    (Walter Benjamin, Reflections, 157)
In the Brothel of Modernism: Picasso and Joyce
Robert Scholes
My claim here, is that modernism as a literary and artistic movement seems to have been structured in such a way as to exclude, marginalize, and devalue the work of women--or to extract a price from them that hampered their development. This can be traced in specific historical incidents, such as the attacks on her intellectual integrity that damaged the reputation of Edith Sitwell during her career as a modernist poet, or the rejections by publishers of Stevie Smith's poetry along with instructions to her to go and write a novel, or the seduction of Jean Rhys by Ford Madox Ford as a way of assisting her with her career, or the impregnation of Rebecca West by H. G. Wells, which hindered West's progress in getting established as a writer, or the misogynistic and anti-semitic attack of Wyndham Lewis on Gertrude Stein's prose, or Ezra Pound's expulsion of Amy Lowell from the imagists--and so on. Modernism's exclusion or marginalization of women can also be shown in the extraordinary role that prostitution played in the development as modernists of those two giants of the movement, Joyce and Picasso--and that is the burden of the following discussion.

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
   -  Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto
"All that is solid melts into air": notes on the logic of the global spectacle
Jonathan Flatley
In the second part of the sentence from The Communist Manifesto which I have taken as my epigraph, Marx and Engels assert that the way capitalism constantly denudes and destroys, leaving nothing holy, will allow us to see clearly the nature of class oppression as well as its collective nature: man will be forced to face "his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind." Now, it is the melting into air of televisuality itself that offers us the possibility for seeing these relations and for seizing them. In fact, it may be the only place in which they can be perceived, It may be that it is not as workers of the world that we will unite, but as a mournful and melancholic audience. Scott-Heron was partly right: the revolution will be live. But for better or for worse, that "liveness" is now available exclusively on television.

The Soundscape of Modernity
Emily Thompson
excerpt provided by Jeff Ward

Unremarkable objects like sound meters and acoustical tiles have as much to say about the ways that people understood their world as do the paintings of Pablo Picasso, the writings of John Dos Passos, the music of Igor Stravinsky, and the architecture of Walter Gropius. All are cultural constructions that epitomized an era defined by the shocks and displacements of a society reformulating its very experience of time and space.

Karl Marx had these displacements in mind when he famously summarized the condition of modernity by proclaiming, “All that is solid melts into air.” Marx had very particular ideas about the material aspects of life and their role in historical change, ides not necessarily at play in the story that follows. Nonetheless, like Marx, I believe that the essence of history is found in its material. I argue against the idea of modernity as a cultural zeitgeist, a matrix of disembodied ideas perceived and translated by great artists into material forms that then trickle down to a more popular level of consciousness. In the story that follows, modernity was built from the ground up. It was constructed by the actions and through the experiences of ordinary individuals as they struggled to make sense of their world.

If modern culture is not a zeitgeist, not an immaterial cluster of ideas somehow “in the air,” it must be acknowledged that sound most certainly is there, in the air.


The Cyclist
Natalia Goncharova


Faustian Economics
Hell hath no limits
Wendell Berry

lengthy excerpt provided by Beth at Alive On All Channels

The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination -- this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: "There's always more." Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done -- that of neighborliness andcaretaking -- cannot be done by remote control and the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.


Adam Kotsko's reading notes on Agamben's Il Regno e la Gloria

Ch. 1, "The two paradigms"

Ch. 2, "The mystery of the economy"

Ch. 3, "Being and act

via Theoria


The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala

via BibliOdyssey