wood s lot      september 1 - 15, 2008

Koichiro Kurita

Carola Vogt | Peter Boerboom


Liberating the Commons
Free Radio
Stephen Dunifer on the Free Radio Movement or Micopower Broadcasting.

Free Radio Berkeley:
International Radio Action Training Education

Project TUPA
Transmitters Uniting the Peoples of the Americas


A digital library, free to the world
presentation by Brewster Kahle of The Internet Archive


Töcksfors, Sweden
Terje Enge

via express-free


An Archive of the (Political) Unconscious
Christopher Faulkner
Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 26, No 2 (2001)


Abstract: This paper proffers two parallel and related lines of inquiry: (1) it considers the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a paradigm of all archives and, in that light, (2) it examines the meaning of the citations to Jean Renoir in numerous FBI files released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. These files provide the evidence of a heretofore ignored political activism on Renoir's part in the United States during the 1940s that must lead us to rethink critical and historical assumptions about his film work during his American period and immediately thereafter.

This paper has two objectives. It is first of all about a certain kind of unintended archive or, let us say, a certain institution which I shall choose to think of as an archive, an institution which seems to me paradigmatic of all archives. It is paradigmatic because an analysis of its practices must rely upon the insights included by psychoanalysis, which, as Derrida insists, "aspires to be a general science of the archive, of everything that can happen to the economy of memory and to its substrates, traces, documents, in their supposedly psychical or technoprosthetic forms …". Not only is the unconscious (obviously) an archive, in other words, archives can (obviously) be said to function like the unconscious. I hope this relationship between the one and the other will prove to be something more than a conceit.

In the simplest terms, the purpose of the archive, any archive, like the unconscious itself, is to serve as an operating system for both remembering and forgetting. Forgetting, as we are often reminded, is the verso of remembering, of archiving. Forgetting is that equal and relational activity to which memory is bound - as the leaves of manuscripts, incunabula, books are tightly bound; but also bound in the sense of a direction or destination which tends - and which thus enables it. What I am trying to get at is that the deposits of an archive should not be thought of as merely existing, in a passive state; they are always already meaningful by virtue of their dynamic relation with that which has had to be forgotten. Remembering or saving, and forgetting or discarding, are active movements, mental or physical, that belong to the economy of the archive, in either its "psychical or technoprosthetic" forms.

In that economy of hoarding and expenditure lies the ethical-political function of the archive. Of course, it can only serve that function when we act to excavate it, when we activate its meanings. The archaeological work we do will force us to consider the uses of the past and the necessities we might want it to serve. In this paper, I want to activate some of the meanings of my unintended archive as a formal system, and thereby speak to its ethical and political function, as well as analyze the specific content of what it remembers. Not surprisingly, it will prove to be difficult to do justice to the analysis if one does not reflect on the workings of the system.


Jean Renoir
(September 15, 1894–February 12, 1979)

Jean Renoir
By Andre Bazin
edited by Francois Truffaut

Jean Renoir
By Martin O'Shaughnessy


Ron Silliman remembers Reginald Shepherd

...what I appreciated most about Reginald Shepherd’s writing and his person was his ability, unparalleled in the world of letters, to address those with whom he disagreed about all else with great respect, dignity and humor. To argue with him was to participate in a debate at a very high level, in which you knew that he would give no ground unless he really felt persuaded by your point, and that he expected no less from you. He could be wrong, and I’m sure he felt the same way about me, but I never traded emails or comments in our various blogs that I did not enjoy, and that I did not come away from feeling less than enriched. His loss at such a young age is a profound one for everybody in poetry.


David Foster Wallace
February 21, 1962 - September 12, 2008

appraisals and appreciations


"There isn´t anything anywhere any more"
An interview with László Krasznahorkai

I often go into exile wherever I can, from America to East Asia, just to make sure I am not here. Literally, I will go anywhere just to make sure I don't have to be at home. Of course, the end result is that when I go to a place like this, I usually return shattered, disappointed, and disillusioned. Because there is no place on earth from which a guy like me would not return shattered, disappointed, and disillusioned. What is worse, it means that our yearnings have no meaning anymore. Bit by bit, after many years of unwilling wanderings, I am getting to be convinced there is no place worth yearning for. There isn't anything anywhere anymore. So there is a negative attraction at home and a positive push of repulsion abroad. I am not saying that the past is brilliant – the recent past, for instance, almost killed me. But those people, living under oppression, had that something about them that gave you hope that the democratic ideals we envisaged at the time could build us a country which is more tolerable when measured by the moral and aesthetic expectations we held. But let me repeat – I would in no way like to idealise what we had at the time. How could I? I would much rather say that we have now lost by the wayside even what little we had – all that once prevented people from becoming blinded by their situation. We have lost whatever used to stop people from selling their dignity for a spoonful of gold or a spoonful of free soup – whatever they have in their spoons.
The Melancholy of Resistance
László Krasznahorkai
(An excerpt from the first chapter of the novel)


Carola Vogt | Peter Boerboom


Freud Called Consciousness a Symptom
Robert Gibbons

Outside it’s raining on her red mums, which compared to death & dying, is bright & joyful. Drops on rhododendron leaves thank me for listening. The clouds are light. It’s a lingual world, go ahead reach out & talk someone. Hello. Hello. Hell no, hello. Oh, there’s plenty of room for rebellion & disconnectedness that some might call insanity, but it’s not, & if you want real Freedom, that’s worth taking, & fighting for, too. You see, I’ve been talking to myself all along.

Exquisite Corpse is alive and well.


Listening with Courtesy:
A Conversation with Tim Lilburn

There have been some awfully attractive people who wrote poetry, or people who became attractive as they wrote it. It would be terrible to think of living without poetry. I think of people like Osip Mandelstam, John Berryman, Louise Glück, Akhmatova, Tsvetayeva, Wallace Stevens -- one is so happy that they wrote. I feel bulked as a person when I read what they wrote, somehow they did this beautiful thing that was difficult. Now, is this necessary? When you read Akhmatova, and Mandelstam, you get a sense that poetry is a kind of bread. Without this type of attention going on in the culture then things do become harder. And one way that you can tell that things are becoming harder, or more violent, is that things become clearer. Without poetic attention the world could become too clear -- it's dangerous.(...)

The thing is more than your name for it and more than your ability to know it. It's more magnificent to you than your imagination of your advantage. It's just broader in so many ways so that approaching it -- the river, the hills, the deer, anything -- you are tempted to simply give up in front of it. But if you don't give up, can't do this, say, the thing has about it a kind of distance. Its sheer distance is a kind of violence; it thwarts what you pride most in yourself, your ability to comprehend, your ability to draw things toward you through language. All of these powers are humiliated as you approach the differentiated thing. And out of this humiliation comes courtesy. You are forced to give the thing back to itself and your ability to encase, hold, draw toward you, domesticate, is shaped; it is bent back on itself. So whether you put the thing down, letting go along with it a sense of yourself as central, or you have it torn out of your hand, you lose it. Eros is wooed by the thing and it hurtles forward; and wrapped around eros is language, comprehension, sense of order. Desire seems to be shaped by its own momentum and velocity, and as it moves along it just loses these very things, language and so on, by which you thought it was constituted. Language, order, are stripped and impoverished by the wonderful distance of a thing in the world.

Studies in Canadian Literature

Untitled (Tatjana)
Annelise Kretschmer
ChildrenGalerie Priska Pasquer

Photographs by Charles Nègre, Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, Mayer & Pierson, Heinrich Kühn, Hugo Erfurth, August Sander, Lewis Hine, Alexander Rodchenko, Paul Citroen, Aenne Biermann, Annelise Kretschmer, Elizaveta Svilova-Vertova, Raoul Hausmann, Brassai, Walker Evans, Weegee, Lisette Model, Michael Ruetz, Achim Lippoth, Michael Schmidt, Rudolf Bonvie, Jochen Gerz, Astrid Klein, Christian Boltanski.

Visions of Class, Visions Beyond Class
Some Thoughts About Socialist Renewal
Ingo Schmidt

The reason that there is no socialist politics which inspires people beyond small circles is the absence of a concept of working class. To be more precise, socialist circles, and a few academics it might be added, talk about class in an abstract manner that doesn’t resonate among other activists, let alone the people who are theoretically predestined to be members of that class. Actually-existing workers rarely identify themselves as members of the working class and would much rather see themselves as part of imagined communities such as nations, members of religious communities or sports clubs. Work enters their self-identification mostly through professional associations and unions. (....)

Working classes always were, and still are, comprised by men and women of different colours and citizenships, working in different sectors and occupations and under rather different conditions. Only (petty) bourgeois class prejudice fails to recognize diversity and dignity among workers; but it sure loves to subordinate them as a homogenous and mindless factor of production. As often, it should be noted, neoclassical economics offers much more succinct expression of such class prejudice than postmodern jargon.

Relay #23 July - Sep, 2008 [PDF]
a Socialist Project Review

On the Lenin Hills
Victor Akhlomov
Viktor Akhlomov, Retrospective exhibition
Moscow House of Photography
September 12—October 12, 2008

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via gmtPlus9 (-15)


Meditation on a Thought of Antin's (Second Hand)
Bill Lavender

poetry is a discourse on freedom
       what might once have been called freedom
               the  e x p e r i m e n t
                     not meant to test
    but to break a bond
lw: no matter how we try to separate the definition
of a single concept in the many meanings of a word,
       i n            t h e            e n d
all we will discover are the rules for the use of the word
        even in the rule-bound, in the out
     of bounds                     what separates

         the concept    from    the sign
                ---»» soundimage ««---
    & all its labyrinthine constructs 
       to the laws of the mental
that the words wd. not be
                           as a clacking of wood on wood
         their pure rhythm       the dance
            the whole sweaty work
of signifying                              not even
                in the heart

    but in the wood itself
purged             for the oldest of reasons
       like a scribe
assigned by the king to encode
                   the secret documents
     the library   the maps to the treasure
    as to be unintelligible to their enemies
who, as anticipated, storm the castle that night
         and kill of course first the defenseless scribe
and throw his body on the fire with the key still in his
pocket     and they take the encrypted library
   make it the basis of their science


The Guardian
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

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Nine contemporary poets read themselves through modernism
For three evenings, October 12 through 14, 2000, The Kelly Writers House, collaborating with the Modernist Studies Association conference, "Modernisms II," presented nine contemporary poets read themselves through modernism.


Charles Bernstein / Walter Benjamin
Rachel Blau DuPlessis / Virginia Woolf

The Rabbit
Pier Paola Pasolini
—translated by Bill Lavender

Quest for my poverty, guarded tutelage
piecemeal— my how comparisons age and
waste away. Organically made to matter,
this vast day of no special importance
announces a fratricide of legend, a pouting
obedient and roseate poll made to order,
trivial and pleased as portent, like some uncle
from a circular mobile farm. The new castle's crumbling.
Lost in stages, this crust of bucolic war
feeds a loose and verdant totality, locally vernal.

Featured Translator: Bill Lavender
An Online Journal of Translation

Toronto Star Election Central

Canadian federal election blog

thanks to djn at If there is hope...


The bloody rise of the vote hunter
Whether it's moose, duck or bongo, the slaughter of gentle creatures has been the making of many a Republican politician
Paul Theroux


Garden of Selves
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison


Error from Babel mutters in the places,
Cities apart, where now we word our failures:
Hatred and guilt have left us without language
that might have led to discourse
    -   William Meredith, Effort at Speech

Free Fall
collages by Nick Piombino
video and music by Mike Burakoff

The Continental Review
the internet's first video-only forum for contemporary poetry and poetics.

Nick Piombino

New Books from Otoliths—Beckett, Edmond, Fieled, Huth, Manning, Puckett, Rosenberg
Mark Young

Reginald Shepherd

Reginald Shepherd's Blog

Poems by Reginald Shepherd

You, Therefore
For Robert Philen

You are like me, you will die too, but not today:
you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine:
if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been
set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost
radio, may never be an oil painting or
Old Master’s charcoal sketch: you are
a concordance of person, number, voice,
and place, strawberries spread through your name
as if it were budding shrubs, how you remind me
of some spring, the waters as cool and clear
(late rain clings to your leaves, shaken by light wind),
which is where you occur in grassy moonlight:
Doppelganger Music and Self-Portrait in the New World Order
Reginald Shepherd

Only in the Light of Lost Words Can We Imagine Our Rewards
Reginald Shepherd on Ashbery's Some Trees

Avant-Garde and Modern, Part One
Reginald Shepherd

In his provocative book Theory of The Avant-Garde, German art theorist Peter Bürger makes a useful distinction between avant-garde art and modernist art. The historical avant-garde (in his view comprised of Dada, Surrealism, and Russian constructivism), which Bürger sees as a failed project that is now finished, sought to destroy the institution of art in order to merge art and the praxis of life: “Creativity would cease to be the eccentric prerogative of individuals, with society itself revealed as a work of art". Though German critical theorist Jürgen Habermas points out in his essay “Modernity—An Incomplete Project" that “A rationalized everyday life…could hardly be saved from cultrural impoverishment through breaking open a single cultural sphere", the project of sublating the institution of art with the praxis of life succeeded in a negative, parodic form (the danger of which Bürger recognizes), as capitalism has colonized all areas of life and human experience, including, as critical theorist Fredric Jameson points out, the unconscious. (I have dreams about buying things, or stealing them, or finding them, dreams about finding or stealing money.) Bürger notes that the sublation of art into the praxis of life can only be destructive of art’s capacity to critique and imagine different shapes for reality if the praxis of daily life remains one of capitalist instrumentality: “In late capitalist society, intentions of the historical avant-garde are being realized, but the result has been a disvalue. Given the experience of the false sublation of autonomy, one will need to ask whether a sublation of the autonomy status [of art] can be desirable at all, whether the distance between art and the praxis of life is not requisite for that free space within which alternatives to what exists become conceivable".
Parts Two, Three and Four

Mikhael Subotzky

New Photography 2008

Mikhael Subotzky at Magnum


Maxine Chernoff

“It is all a Tree.”–Thomas Carlyle

By making things rare, we create an elite:
in the Sudan, how a chicken
is poisoned for divination.

Jung’s dream of the wings of a house —
I misread as a house with wings —
“the distorted notions of invisible things.”

Let us speak of what we haven’t seen,
the light that fills the room or
page on which words float like clouds.

How conscience gets extinguished
with threadbare slogans.
Let us now praise embryonic growth,

One thousand poems about the same cathedral,
fixations and ruses, earth-worn objects
and those who love them.
Maxine Chernoff, Three poems

Alaska Pipeline
John Ganis

Imaging a Shattering Earth
Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate


Disagreement: Politics And Philosophy
Jacques Ranciere
translated by Julie Rose

The Beginnings of Politics


Are we to understand ... simply that the scientific counts of geometric proportion are merely ideal constructions by which philosoph in its good will originally seeks to correct the essential, inescapable reality of class struggle? This question can only be answered in two parts. It must first be emphasized that the Ancients, much more than the Moderns, acknowledged that the whole basis of politics is the struggle between the poor and the rich. But that's just it: what they acknowledged was a strictly political reality - even if it meant trying to overcome it. The struggle between the rich and the poor is not social reality, which politics then has to deal with. It is the actual institution of politics itself. There is politics when there is a part of those who have no part, a part or party of the poor. Politics does not happen just because the poor opose the rich. It is the other way aroung: politics (that is, the interruption of the simple effects of domination by the rich) causes the poor to exist as an entity. The outrageous claim of the demos to be the whole of the communtiy only satisfies in its own way - that of a party - the requirement of politics. Politics exists when the natural order of domination is interrupted by the institution of a part of those who have no part. This institution is the whole of politics as a specific form of connection. It defines the common of the community as a political community, in other words, as divided, as based on a wrong that escapes the arithmetic of exchange and reparation. Beyond this setup there is no politics. There is only the order of domination or the disorder of revolt.


Twenty Questions: Social Justice Quiz 2008
Bill Quigley


The Assault
Clayton Eshleman The nests enweb electronically through the American mind. Whitman’s visionary eternal present has become the language of TV, tending always to transfix the audience in an eternal now. I’m taken in, as are you, fellow citizens, failing to instantly recall background particularities. A week later, I come to, recalling, while reading, details I should have brought to bear. The mainstream media cartel beams its needles out of the screens, who is not injected, anesthetized by conversion- spiked patriotic aura? Like a depth charge dropped into 911: 50 years of Cold War mobilization against the Soviet Union has left the country with “a boiling residue of paranoid anxiety.” Greed become a crazed intoxication to redetermine history, if the Bush family becomes trillionaires, might they, led by angels, slip through eternity, skipping over death? Jackknifed bodies plummeting against the photo-serenity of a Tower, not Crane’s “bedlamite,” but a secretary exploding in blue September sky Living in America now is like being on a revised Flight #11. The nave of this self-righteous citadel extends for miles— section after section of our cluster-bombed Yugoslavians, our jerking nerve-gassed Laotians, our napalmed Vietnamese girls, our chopped- apart Guatemalans, our mowed-down East Timorese and there’s our Sharon, in high heels, tightening the thumbscrews on Palestinian immiseration --and below? Right here? Bush is in my gas, Cheney’s in my steering-wheel, Ashcroft’s under our bed!

Ben Shahn
September 12, 1898 - March 14, 1969


Louis MacNeice

September 12, 1907 - September 3, 1963

Rows of books around me stand,
Fence me in on either hand;
Through that forest of dead words
I would hunt the living birds -
So I write these lines for you
Who have felt the death-wish too,
All the wires are cut, my friends
Live beyond the severed ends.
Live Beyond the Severed Ends:
Gerard M. Hopkins & Louis MacNeice

William Adamson


county fair
central Ohio
Ben Shahn


Men standing around broken machines
Paul Ford

I realized not long ago that my age of deep feelings has passed. For much of my life I was able to bring myself to an emotional boil by reading or writing. I used this as a kind of fuel and assured myself that in my agonies I was more intense than the person sitting next to me on the subway. But I have come to sympathize with those men who stood around saying little, who gathered around the open hoods of brown cars or around malfunctioning typewriters.(....)

There is nothing wrong with the newer future. Those who make it work for them will be powerful and rich. But that older future seems to have more room in it for those quiet, dry-eyed men. And I know I want, someday, to join their group as it stands frowning around a steaming car engine, each trying to figure out what went wrong.


Hay In Art
A collection of great works of hay


" Everything in the mind is in rat's country. It doesn't die. They are merely carried, these desperate memories, back and forth in the desert of a billion neurons, set down, picked up, and dropped again by mental pack rats. Nothing perishes, it is merely lost till a surgeon's electrode starts the music of an old player piano whose scrolls are dust. Or you yourself do it, tossing in the restless nights, or even in the day on a strange street when a hurdy-gurdy plays. Nothing is lost, but it can never be again as it was. You will only find the bits and cry out because they were yourself."

    - Loren Eiseley, All the Strange Hours

       from a selection by Jean Morris at Tasting Rhubarb

September 10, 2008

Oxbow Archive

Joel Sternfeld


I think landscape is always a reflection - not simply of changing economic forces - but of desires and things like that; certain ideologies.
Geography is everywhere
An interview with Denis Cosgrove
I think of the humanities – once we get rid of the idea of the universal subject – in the old sense as the proper study of ourselves, of our species, in constant dialogue with each other. Out of that dialogue – the fact that we are always social – comes a commonly created world.

It seems to me that we can better come to understand ourselves, which I take to be principal task of human life: to make sense in and of ourselves. The landscapes that we see around us can serve in the same way as a piece of literature, in the same way as a film, in the same way as a work of art – as expressive aspects of humanity. Geography can share with the other humanities the skills of interpretation and critical reflection. For me, the object of study is the visible landscape. I am not suggesting that geography should be restricted to that, but it happens to be the role, the goal, the method.


Country as the satiric unit: Coconino, Bloom, Yoknapatawpha, Raintree, Tolkien's shire, 'the provinces'.
Tragedy: house, castle, room.
Romance: sea and open country.
Comedy: city.
    - Guy Davenport
quotations from The Hunter Gracchus, and Other Papers on Literature and Art

Hilda Doolittle
September 10, 1886 - September 27, 1961

Can we think a few old cells
were left -- we are left --
grains of honey,
old dust of stray pollen
dull on our torn wings,
we are left to recall the old streets?

Is our task the less sweet
that the larve still sleep in their cells?
Or crawl out to attack our frail strength:
You are useless. We live.
We await great events.
We are spread through this earth.
We protect our strong race.
You are useless.
Your cell takes the place
of our young future strength.

Though they sleep or wake to torment
and wish to displace our old cells --
thin rare gold --
that their larve grow fat --
is our task the less sweet?

Though we wander about,
find no honey of flowers in this waste,
is our task the less sweet --
who recall the old splendour,
await the new beauty of cities?

The city is peopled
with spirits, not ghosts, O my love:

Though they crowded between
and usurped the kiss of my mouth
their breath was your gift,
their beauty, your life. 

Sea Garden
H. D.

H. D. - Poems and Biography


Cesare Pavese
September 9, 1908 – August 27, 1950

Grappa in September
Cesare Pavese

The mornings pass clear and deserted
on the river’s banks, fogged over by dawn,
their green darkened, awaiting the sun.
In that last house, still damp, at the edge
of the field, they’re selling tobacco, blackish,
juicy in flavor: its smoke is pale blue.
They also sell grappa, the color of water.

The moment has come when everything stops
to ripen. The trees in the distance are quiet,
growing darker and darker, concealing fruit
that would fall at a touch. The scattered clouds
are pulpy and ripe. On the distant boulevards,
houses are ripening beneath the mild sky.

This early you see only women. Women don’t smoke
and don’t drink, they know only to stop in the sun
to let their bodies grow warm, as if they were fruit.
The air’s raw with this fog, you drink it in sips
like grappa, everything here has a flavor.
Even the river water has swallowed the banks
and steeps them below, in the sky. The streets
are like women, they grow ripe without moving.

This is the time when each person should pause
in the street to see how everything ripens.
There’s even a breeze, it won’t move the clouds,
but it’s enough to carry the blue smoke along
without breaking it: a new flavor passing. And tobacco
is best when steeped in some grappa. That’s why the women
won’t be the only ones enjoying the morning.
Three Cesare Pavese
Translations by Geoffrey Brock

Film - By Samuel Beckett
starring Buster Keaton

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"A mother in London recently described her ten-year old boy's reading behavior: “He'll be reading a (printed) book. He'll put the book down and go to the book's website. Then, he'll check what other readers are writing in the forums, and maybe leave a message himself, then return to the book. He'll put the book down again and google a query that's occurred to him.” I'd like to suggest that we change our description of reading to include the full range of these activities, not just time spent looking at the printed page."
a unified field theory of publishing in the networked era
Bob Stein
I’ve been exploring the potential of “new media” for nearly thirty years. There was an important aha moment early on when I was trying to understand the essential nature of books as a medium. The breakthrough came when i stopped thinking about the physical form or content of books and focused instead on how they are used. At that time print was unique compared to other media, in terms of giving its users complete control of the sequence and pace at which they accessed the contents. The ability to re-read a paragraph until its understood, to flip back and forth almost instantly between passages, to stop and write in the margins, or just think — this affordance of reflection (in a relatively inexpensive portable package) was the key to understanding why books have been such a powerful vehicle for moving ideas across space and time. I started calling books user-driven media — in contrast to movies, radio, and television, which at the time were producer-driven. Once microprocessors were integrated into audio and video devices, I reasoned, this distinction would disappear. However — and this is crucial — back in 1981 I also reasoned that its permanence was another important defining aspect of a book. The book of the future would be just like the book of the past, except that it might contain audio and video on its frozen "pages." This was the videodisc/cdrom era of electronic publishing.

The emergence of the web turned this vision of the book of the future as a solid, albeit multimedia object completely upside down and inside out.


A Companion to Digital Literary Studies
ed. Ray Siemens, Susan Schreibman

Imagining the New Media Encounter
Alan Liu

This volume in the Blackwell Companion series convenes scholars, theorists, and practitioners of humanities computing to report on contemporary "digital literary studies." Perhaps the best way to characterize their collective account is to say that it depicts a scene of encounter. A Companion to Digital Literary Studies is fundamentally a narrative of what may be called the scene of "new media encounter" — in this case, between the literary and the digital. The premise is that the boundary between codex-based literature and digital information has now been so breached by shared technological, communicational, and computational protocols that we might best think in terms of an encounter rather than a border. And "new media" is the concept that helps organize our understanding of how to negotiate — which is to say, mediate — the mixed protocols in the encounter zone.1 But if the Companion is an account of new media encounter, then it also belongs to a long lineage of such "first contact" narratives in media history. New media, it turns out, is a very old tale.
Annotated Overview of Selected Electronic Resources
Tanya Clement and Gretchen Gueguen

A Companion to Digital Humanities
ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth

thanks to Kristine at Serendipities


Federman Wordle


New EPC author pages

Deanna Ferguson

Dan Farrell


from "Lateral Argument"
Kevin Davies

Backing slowly away from the bear, not looking
        in its eyes. Pretending to be asleep.
Ignoring the tornado. Refusing to acknowledge
        the legitimacy of the mudslide.
Not flinching -- holding steady -- when the 
        falls into the bath. Glancing back, turning to 
salt, and not
caring. Driving blindfolded on acid in the 70s.
        Arguing for a lower grade. Pulling the thigh
hairs of the opposing power forward.
        A small gully, with a few boards, can be 
for a while. Bowing inapproapriately, standing up
        at the wrong time, an accidental snort. Now 
you are ready.
It isn't what anyone needs or wants. This music
        includes recordings made out Trade Center
Plato libeled Gorgias to advance his own 
        agenda. Those clicking sounds. An 
depressing millenium, a real letdown after
the frisky ad campaign. 

The Golden Age of Paraphernalia
Kevin Davies
Reviewed by John Latta
A lengthy explication, maybe I’m just the most bone-head’d bonze in saffron hereabouts, accustom’d flipping a book open to sample it here and there without having to be clout’d upside the head by a new semiology (code) and a structural puzzler. Truth is, maybe it doesn’t even “matter” all that much: the fluidity (porosity) of Davies’s work succeeds in mimicking both the “click-through” (and “back”) reading style of those (all of us) who dog the Internets, and the audio-strata shifts of voices in a crowd, radiophonic (telephonic) bombardment in a world of constant hanging visual (aural) assault.

Chua Chye Teck

via Asian Photography Blog


End of Fantasy
Cesare Pavese
translated by Linh Dinh

This body won't start again. Touching his eye sockets
one feels a heap of earth is more alive,
that the earth, even at dawn, does not keep itself so quiet.
But a corpse is the remains of too many awakenings.

We only have this power: to start
each day of life—before the earth,
under a silent sky—waiting for an awakening.
One is amazed by so much drudgery at dawn;
through awakening within awakening a job is done.
But we live only to shudder
at the labor ahead and to awaken the earth one time.
It happens at times. Then it quiets down along with us.

Iosif Király
Text by Jörg Colberg

new issue of 1000 Words Photography

via exposure project


"A democratic civilisation will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection - not an invitation for hypnosis."
    -   Umberto Eco

The Adaptive City
City, heal thyself.

Dan Hill

There is much wringing of hands all round, at least within the professions concerned with the city. Meanwhile the new shock cities of the so-called emerging economies career down the same cul-de-sacs at breakneck speed.

Elsewhere, the enormous and chaotic urban systems of the global south appear to provide an alternative model to an academic mind, but there appears to be little that individual agency there can do to construct a collective sense of urban progress. These cities are highly strung in a series of tensions arising from an wildly uneven topography of development, leapfrog technologies like mobile phones and WiMAX co-existing with barter economies and shanty towns.(....)

Fast forward, and some have written of the this century’s cities developing new artificial nervous systems, to supersede those articulated metabolic systems of the 19th century. These newer nervous systems, not centralised but distributed, and predicated on digital networks of networks in which every object is informational and every movement or behaviour is trackable, could combine to form a new kind of lattice-like informational membrane, hovering magically over the physical fabric of the city. As if one of Calvino’s imaginary cities comprised solely of information, a limitless multidimensional data-based shadow structure represents the life of the city in real-time.

Not all of the life, of course. There are limits to such models, as there are limits to the perceptive capabilities of sensors and of filters to interpret the data. Real life continues in parallel with the real-time city model. In an inversion of the body, where the human subconscious is capable of processing vast amounts of data not perceived by its conscious self, the real-time city model can only capture a tiny fraction of the information present within the city. So the city information model cannot approach the subconscious of the city, but can provide a facsimile of consciousness.


Siegfried Sassoon
September 8, 1886 - September 1, 1967

"I AM making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

    - Siegfried Sassoon, 1917

Siegfried Sassoon 
  	Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.


Alfred Jarry
September 8, 1873 - November 1, 1907

Ubu's Almanac alfred jarry: absinthe, bicycles and merdre
Dave 'daev' Walsh

Michael Taylor on Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi

Gene Van Dyke

Because of Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry has become the adopted father of a number of departures from the theatrical right. The symbolists claimed him, as would the surrealists. The family tree has been drawn time and time again down to the futurist and dada movements. Antonin Artaud--one of the single greatest influences on the second-wave avant-garde--was a disciple of Jarry's (naming a theatre in his honor). Martin Esslin linked him to the absurdists. From Breton to Tzara to Beckett--the roads, more often than not, seem to lead back to the head of that madman from Laval. The staging conventions that were broken with Ubu Roi have helped feed the imaginations of designers and directors alike. Any one element is worthy its own analysis--or even better, its own enjoyment. And if you stripped all of these things away you would be left with the one thing that I believe to be Jarry's most revolutionary contribution--Ubu himself. In 1896, the stage met with its fist true anti-protagonist. He is everything that is foul in the world, in a pure sense--devoid of any redeeming characteristic or capacity. He is not diluted with Iago's cunning or Macbeth's guilt. And somehow he is not unlike us.
The Crucifixion Considered As An Uphill Bicycle Race
Alfred Jarry


Sasha Rudensky

Rudensky at Photo-eye


Notes on Notes on Translation
Kent Johnson
responding to Eliot Weinberger’s now quasi-classic “Notes on Translation”

1. I’ve said it before: Poetry is that which is worth translating. The poem dies when it has no place to go.

Kent Johnson: An echo of Benjamin here: that poems “call out” for translation, so they may enter their “afterlife.”

And it’s worth saying, too, that deeply worthy poems often die, untranslated, through a kind of pointed neglect… This can happen — and on significant scales — when once-oppositional literary movements come into legitimate status and assume (the agonistic certainties of their convictions now enabled by position) the pursuit of institutional authority and control. Thus, in the name of poetic progress, entire traditions are relegated to the dust heap of the passé or the verboten. As took place under the ideology of the New Criticism, for example. Or as is taking place presently, within a former avant-garde’s rapid academic refashioning… Poems can die this way, too, having no place to go, being insufficiently “advanced,” too tainted by “superseded” forms or conventions of address, to be deemed worthy of translation.


21. To translate is to learn how poetry is written. Nothing else is so successful a teacher, for it carries no baggage of self-expression.

To translate is also to more deeply learn, and marvel at, how grammar works — in one’s own language and in another. And it is to begin, however tenuously, to learn and marvel (this via J.H. Prynne) at the mysterious space or interval between languages — that shimmering area between repelling poles of grammar, which traces or residues of meaning cannot traverse. An area which is very much at the heart of poetry’s substance, perhaps…


14 / Autumn 2008

Supercapitalism: The Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business
introductory chapter
Robert Reich

Capitalism has become more responsive to what we want as individual purchasers of goods, but democracy has grown less responsive to what we want together as citizens. ...Why has capitalism become so triumphant and democracy so enfeebled? Are these two trends connected? What, if anything, can be done to strengthen democracy?(....)

Companies are not citizens. They are bundles of contracts. The purpose of companies is to play the economic game as aggressively as possible. The challenge for us as citizens is to stop them from setting the rules. Keeping supercapitalism from spilling over into democracy is the only constructive agenda for change. All else, as I shall make clear, is frolic and detour.

Supercapitalism and its Discontents:
An Interview with Robert Reich

The Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America
Michael J. Thompson
reviewed by Mark Major


Dock #1

Alec Soth


Mania,Depression,and the Future of Theory [mediafire download]
Elizabeth Abel
(Winter2004 2004): 336-339.

I take as my text—because I am one of those critics who can speculate only via a text—the five propositions that collectively suggest that critical inquiry, the practice, not the journal, is both retrenching and expanding, assuming a depressive and euphoric stance toward the place of the humanities in a posthuman age. Five potential futures, but only two positions: a defense of familiar humanistic ground against the pressures of technology and corporatization and an embrace of the human sciences reconstituted through, and on equal footing with, their more confident scientific others. Can these stances be theorized together rather than apart?

The Eightfold Path Toward Self-Discovery Through Photography

Tao of Photography
Andrew Ilachinski

via mirabile dictu

A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to discover, through the detours of art, these two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened."
    -   Albert Camus

That have not been asked:
ten dispatches about endurance in face of walls by John Berger
quotations from the stories of Andrei Platonov (1899-1951)

The secret of storytelling amongst the poor is the conviction that stories are told so that they may be listened to elsewhere, where somebody, or perhaps a legion of people, know better than the storyteller or the story's protagonists, what life means. The powerful can't tell stories: boasts are the opposite of stories, and any story however mild has to be fearless and the powerful today live nervously.(....)

Story-time (the time within a story) is not linear. The living and the dead meet as listeners and judges within this time, and the greater the number of listeners felt to be there, the more intimate the story becomes to each listener. Stories are one way of sharing the belief that justice is imminent. And for such a belief, children, women and men will fight at a given moment with astounding ferocity. This is why tyrants fear storytelling: all stories somehow refer to the story of their fall.(....)

There is a ceaseless spatial negotiation which may be considerate or cruel, conciliating or dominating, unthinking or calculated, but which recognises that an exchange is not something abstract but a physical accommodation. Their elaborate sign languages of gestures and hands are an expression of such physical sharing. Outside the walls collaboration is as natural as fighting; scams are current, and intrigue, which depends upon taking a distance, is rare. The word private has a totally different ring on the two sides of the wall. On one side it denotes property; on the other an acknowledgement of the temporary need of someone to be left, as if alone, for a while. Every site inside the walls is rentable - every square metre counted; every site outside risks to become a ruin - every sheltering corner counted.
The space of choices is also limited. They choose as much as the rich, perhaps more, for each choice is starker. There are no colour charts which offer a choice between one hundred and seventy different shades. The choice is close-up - between this or that. Often it is made vehemently, for it entails the refusal of what has not been chosen. Each choice is quite close to a sacrifice. And the sum of the choices is a person's destiny.


from the ghost of the harvest madonna
Craig Perez

The Closed Gates Of Tomorrow. Singers with pure, clear voices dispel evil spirits at the autumn harvest by carving gourds. The boy runs his hands through his hair in an attempt to harvest his thoughts. Ghost nets, often kilometers long, are mainly lost or discarded from fishing vessels in Asian waters. Harvest Home / Balcony / Flag of Nations The boy reads the sign: "No Swimming."

Blog and Drudge
Craig Perez

A Beautiful World
Grandma Moses
September 7, 1860 - December 13, 1961


The bad moon of another campaign season rises. The depoliticized, disinformed, and disengaged American electorate twitch in their culture-coffins. Soon they will be urged to arise and plod across the dim landscape. Robotically they will stand in line to perform their ritual; attempting to hungrily suck meaning from the wizened and bloodless corpse of a rumored democracy. Then, still famished, they will return to their vaults. But the moon will rise again, and so will they --- on and on.
    - Richard Rhames

The Past and Future of the Republican Party
The Cryptkeeper and His Pitbull
Wajahat Ali


Europeans awed that a woman wedded to creationism and a big fan of shooting wolves and polar bears from helicopters might be one step away from the Oval Office should remember that the very popular Ronald Reagan – another western governor inexperienced in international affairs -- sat inside the Oval Office for eight years, having publicly affirmed on more than one occasion that he believed the Final Judgement would occur in his life time, probably in Megiddo.
    - Alexander Cockburn

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."
    -   Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)
Hitler's religious beliefs and fanaticism
(Selected quotes from Mein Kampf)
compiled by Jim Walker

hydraulics housings
hydroelectric power station
Schiffenen, Switzerland
Ferit Kuyas


Make no mistake. Conformity is a control mechanism that keeps the United Corporations of America sputtering along, unhealthy of course, but productive enough to keep the shareholders comfy. We may not he headed in the right direction, but our lemming-esque locomotion is a marvel of multi-media-induced coordination, social engineering and perpetual, material-assuaged surrender.
    - E.R. Bills

Joseph and His Brothers
Episode #18
Karim Zaimovic
Translated from the Bosnian by Ellen Elias-Bursac

The world is a vast tapestry, and everything in it happens at random. There are no laws, no rules. Chance determines the place each of us holds. In the weaving we are the warp and the knots, and, with an elusive logic, with even some semblance of order though, perhaps, order of a higher kind, these lines are ever crisscrossing and diverging, weaving in and out. There is balance at times in the weaving. For no one thread can be pulled taut and woven in until another thread is unwoven and released. As we said, it is chance that dictates these things.Tonight, in the eighteenth episode of the show Joseph and His Brothers, we will try to provide unusual substantiation for this claim, so you can grasp it no matter how weird, and indeed, disturbing, our example may seem. Our program this evening will be shorter than usual, but that is so that what we say will be all the more concise and understandable. Tonight we speak of the bizarre interplay of coincidence and chance in what actually happens, so accidental and strange, to each of us. Fortunately most of us do not experience the drastic consequences suffered by the heroes of our Sarajevo life stories, the people you will hear about today as our broadcast proceeds.

Laura Jane Addams
September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935

"Jane Addams, activist, social worker, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is best remembered as the founder of Hull House in Chicago. A progressive social settlement, Hull House offered a range of social services to the residents of its poor, crowded neighborhood and soon gained influential support leading to powerful social reform movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jane Addams became one of the country's most prominent women through her settlement work, her writing, and later, as an international activist for world peace."
Open Collections Program: Women Working: Jane Addams
Creating a self
The Education of Jane Addams
Victoria Bissell Brown

Twenty Years at Hull-House
with Autobiographical Notes
Jane Addams

Waiting at the Clinic
Hull House Neighborhood
Lewis Hine

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Settlement movement


settlement volunteer
visiting a Hull-House neighborhood family

Lewis Wickes Hine
1874 – 1940

1 2 3 4


remains. Jane Addams' town
Kevin Coval


Chicago remains Jane Addams town
cuz Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn
dream here and Haki Madhubuti builds
institutions and Lavie Raven teaches
in a high school mothers made
by refusing to eat until the children
of Little Village had the same quality
education gold coast children deserve.

it remains Jane Addams town
cuz Marc Smith is at the Green Mill
and Nikki Mitchell’s at the Velvet Lounge
and there are men and women who can’t go
cuz they work the third shift and their lovers
will miss them until morning, when they will
pass like elevated trains close enough to touch
but never at the same station cuz there is work
to be done, and Studs Terkel refuses to quit
and my father is in a basement trying,
and the Cubs put on uniforms every season,
and Rami Nashashibi is the Muslim Martin King,
and Beth Richie wants the world to stop beating
Black women and their daughters, stop dictating
their bodies locked. start freedom.

Sun Ra, Ana Castillo, Ang 13, Ken Vandemark,
Koko Talyor, Sam Cooke, Rick Kogan writes here,
Stuart Dybek, Patricia Smith, Cap D, Lupe Fiasco,
and names never spoken, faces covered in knit wool
tucked beneath the Kennedy, faces forlorn and worn
wandering Michigan Avenue, Lavel blind between
red and blue lines at Jackson, Oba Maja passing out
poems at the six corners of Damen and North Ave.,
David schizophrenic in front of the Wicker Park
post office holding out cups asking for change

who is asking for change

it remains Jane Addams town
cuz of the people
working for change
and the people
are working for change
and the people never really change
but stay working, toiling in the death
of industry, though the light dims
the people who work for change
know tomorrow is
ahead of them.

Jane Addams Hull House Association

Trashing Democracy
Harry C. Boyte

During the Republican convention Rudolph Giuliani and Sarah Palin heaped scorn on "community organizers" with snappy sound bites. Giuliani laughed off the idea that Barack Obama's community organizing background could count for anything. Palin followed, calling herself "just your average hockey mom" who became mayor and then governor, also mocking Obama's experiences. "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities." The problem for Republicans is that community organizing is at the heart of the democratic tradition. They knew this not long ago.
Community Organizers
an excellent response to Palin's speech


Tiptoeing Through the Muck of Alaskan Politics
a relatively new blog


City of Ambition
Ferit Kuyas


The truly appalling thing about "The Tragedy of the Commons" is not its lack of evidence or logic -- badly researched and argued articles are not unknown in academic journals. What's shocking is the fact that this piece of reactionary nonsense has been hailed as a brilliant analysis of the causes of human suffering and environmental destruction, and adopted as a basis for social policy by supposed experts ranging from economists and environmentalists to governments and United Nations agencies.
The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons
Ian Angus
Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests, and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatization the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer "yes" -- and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, "The Tragedy of the Commons" has been anthologized in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most-quoted: a recent Google search found "about 302,000" results for the phrase "tragedy of the commons."

For 40 years it has been, in the words of a World Bank Discussion Paper, "the dominant paradigm within which social scientists assess natural resource issues" (Bromley and Cernea 1989: 6). It has been used time and again to justify stealing indigenous peoples' lands, privatizing health care and other social services, giving corporations "tradable permits" to pollute the air and water, and much more.(....)

The tragedy of the commons is a useful political myth -- a scientific-sounding way of saying that there is no alternative to the dominant world order.

Stripped of excess verbiage, Hardin's essay asserted, without proof, that human beings are helpless prisoners of biology and the market. Unless restrained, we will inevitably destroy our communities and environment for a few extra pennies of profit. There is nothing we can do can to make the world better or more just.

via bertramonline


Home of Alfred Bledsoe
Clear Creek Road
Lewis Hine

Self portrait, (in cupboard)
Claude Cahun
(1894 – 1954)

Fame and Infamy - Claude Cahun


Reading Claude Cahun
Lauren Elkin

In the mid-1980s, when the French poet and writer François Leperlier was researching a book on Surrealism, he started tracking mentions of an obscure artist named Claude Cahun on the fringes of the movement. This Cahun had signed some political tracts in 1932 and 1936 and had participated in a Surrealist show at the Charles Ratton Gallery and the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. No one seemed to know who he was, and with good reason. A some point in Leperlier’s research, it emerged that Cahun was a woman—a lesbian writer and photographer who had produced an impressive amount of work until her death on the Channel island of Jersey in 1954, a figure whom André Breton called “one of the most curious spirits of our time.” On the strength of the photographs Leperlier uncovered, Cahun became an icon for feminist art historians, and before long she was getting shows of her own at the Musée d’art Moderne in Paris and the Grey Art Gallery at NYU. Yet only now, 20 years later, is she beginning to receive the same recognition as a writer.
Issue 13 » Quarterly Conversation


The Transparent City

Michael Wolf


The Order of the City (PDF)
Jacques Rancière
Translated by John Drury, Corinne Oster, and Andrew Parker

The factor of exclusion is the absence of time, or absence of leisure, ascholia. The notion is not peculiar to Plato; it is a commonplace in discussions about the relationship of the order of labor to the political order. But if the place is common, the paths leading up to it are anything but; from Plato to Xenophon, or from Xenophon to Aristotle, the absence of leisure lends itself to the most contradictory and disconcerting lines of argument.


The barrier of orders is the barrier of the lie. Nothing remains of the fine functionality of the division of labor. Each was obliged to do the one task for which nature destined him. But the function is an illusion just as nature is. All that remains is the prohibition. The artisan in his place is someone who, in general, does nothing but accredit, even at the cost of lying, the declared lie that puts him in his place.


parrhesia :: a journal of critical philosophy

Making Poverty Visible – Three Theses(PDF)
Alexander García Düttmann
translated by Arne De Boever

'Falling out of one’s role with art': (PDF)
Samuel Weber on Benjamin’s -abilities
Interview by Arne De Boever and Alex Murray

"I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it"
    -   John Cage

John Cage
September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992

Cage on Google Video


The society of the query and the Googlization of our lives
Geert Lovink
A tribute to Joseph Weizenbaum

Jaron Lanier wrote in his Weizenbaum obituary: "We wouldn't let a student become a professional medical researcher without learning about double blind experiments, control groups, placebos and the replication of results. Why is computer science given a unique pass that allows us to be soft on ourselves? Every computer science student should be trained in Weizenbaumian scepticism, and should try to pass that precious discipline along to the users of our inventions".(....)

Serendipity requires a lot of time. We might praise randomness, but hardly practice this virtue ourselves. If we can no longer stumble into islands of reason through our inquiries, we may as well build them ourselves. With Lev Manovich and other colleagues I argue that we need to invent new ways to interact with information, new ways to represent it, and new ways to make sense of it. How are artists, designers, and architects are responding to these challenges? Stop searching. Start questioning. Rather than trying to defend ourselves against "information glut", we can approach this situation creatively as the opportunity to invent new forms appropriate for our information-rich world.


The Transparent City

Michael Wolf



No Heaven on Earth
Verlyn Klinkenborg reviews the anthology American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, edited by Bill McKibben

This is an anthology of many voices—from Henry David Thoreau, writing from Concord in 1837, to Bill McKibben, the editor of this volume, composing his introduction high in the Yosemite backcountry last year. American Earth contains essays, speeches, and poems by roughly one hundred contributors. Everyone in this book is strong-minded, strong-willed, and strong-stomached, and every piece in this anthology is committed at heart to being useful, instructive, and reasonable. There are no Lear-like screams here, nothing like the final dementia of someone who realizes he’s traded his birthright for nothing.(....)

... the feeling this anthology leaves in me—the great emotion—is that it has been entirely superseded by events. It describes a distant and middle and recent past that has been engulfed in spiraling environmental crises. We will never have the terrible opportunity to watch the extinction of the passenger pigeon or the near extinction of the American bison. We have a much more grievous opportunity: to watch multiple, successive extinctions as the sky overheats and the oceans go pale and habitat vanishes. I would say something different if I could. I have every faith in nature’s recuperative powers, even though, as Schell points out, “the reappearance of man is not one of the possibilities.” What I doubt is our ability, as a species, to see and, having seen, to continue to pay attention.


Triple Canopy Issue #3
New Orleans


Words Without Borders - September 2008


Reimagining Place
Michigan Quarterly Review Winter 2001

Big Trees, Back Yards, And The Borders Of Nature
Kent C. Ryden

I would never have become interested in thinking and writing about the natural world as an adult if I hadn't accomplished the first nine years of my growing up in such close proximity to those woods, just up the hill from that river. In reflecting on his own path through life, the biologist Robert Michael Pyle has noted that "When people connect with nature, it happens somewhere. Almost everyone who cares deeply about the outdoors can identify a particular place where contact occurred." That place is usually not storied, monumental, breathtaking, destined for calendar photos and official preservation and vacation visits, but is instead "unspectacular: a vacant lot, a scruffy patch of woods, a weedy field, a stream . . . —or a ditch," a reference to the High Line Canal which meandered through the Aurora, Colorado, of Pyle's youth and whose waters continue to nourish his days both personally and professionally: "Without a doubt," he asserts, "most of the elements of my life flowed from that canal." Likewise, a thoroughly unremarkable sliver of New England hillside field and forest—Mount Tom's poor cousin, the kind of landscape that the leaf-peepers drive through to get to the worthwhile woods—and a shallow rocky brook with no particular distinguishing marks somehow conspired to narrow my range of choices and preferences, to literally prepare the ground for many of the things I have come as an adult to think and write and care about, to subtly shape my ways of seeing: when I hike through New England forests now I am still shaded in imagination by my old backyard woods, and when I lean on a bridge railing to contemplate a stream I still hear quiet plashy echoes of the East Aspetuck. My life remains in many ways continuous with that time and place, rooted deeply in lands lying just outside a child's back yard.

Strange to think that the question "Who am I?" can be answered by a landscape.
Yet not so strange.
The Desert And I: A Study In Affinity
Yi-Fu Tuan
Of all the places I have lived in, without doubt the one for which I have the greatest affinity is the desert. I know this to be true at the conscious level. But the affinity goes deeper than that, for it is true even in dreams. In my dreams, the only place that can be located on a map is the desert in the American Southwest. Other oneiric places have no specific location: I can see myself in an abandoned corridor, a busy street corner, or an empty airport waiting room, but I cannot tell where it is. I did my Ph.D. fieldwork in the desert of Arizona and my first tenure-track job was at the University of New Mexico. Altogether I spent some five years in a desert environment. Can this be the reason? But I have lived far longer elsewhere.

Eldena Ruin
Caspar David Friedrich
(September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840)


Explosive Ruins: the Book in War's Midst
Cory Lavender

In this incendiary epoch we inhabit, many of our cultural artifacts are made to lie in ruins. Wars have destroyed countless volumes of literature and repressive regimes have prevented the publication of many more. Plates of text have been smashed and the night sky has been illuminated with burning dreams. Yet the explosions that annihilate books can be countered by an explosion principle inherent in the nature of books themselves. When not physically destroyed, books exist as the ruins of their own explosive natures. This explosion inherent in the book is that of its potential readability, or its constantly being written. Books explode like bombs. We walk away with chunks sunk in us.

The works discussed below involve themselves with the book both as victim of war's destruction and as explosive. Czeslaw Milosz's poem "A Book in the Ruins" discovers books in a bombed library. Another bombed library, full of books rigged to explode, appears in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. Thomas Wharton's novel Salamander begins in the "bombed-out ruins" of a Quebecois bookshop. These three literary artifacts, set beside Maurice Blanchot's The Writing of the Disaster, form a revelatory ensemble. A comparative search of the wreckage of these works illuminates an archetypal form of ruin.


A Book in the Ruins
Czeslaw Milosz

A dark building. Crossed boards, nailed up, create
A barrier at the entrance, or a gate
When you go in. Here, in the gutted foyer,
The ivy snaking down the walls is wire
Dangling. And, over there, the twisted metal
Columns rising from the undergrowth of rubble
Are tattered tree trunks. This could be the brick
Of the library, you don't know yet, or the sick
Grove of dry white aspen where, stalking birds,
You met a Lithuanian dusk stirred
From its silence only by the wails of hawks.
Now walk carefully. You see whole blocks
Of ceiling caved in by a recent blast.
And above, through jagged tiers of plaster,
A patch of blue. Pages of books lying
Scattered at your feet are like fern-leaves hiding
A moldy skeleton, or else fossils
Whitened by the secrets of Jurassic shells.
A remnant life so ancient and unknown
Compels a scientist, tilting a stone
Into the light, to wonder. He can't know
Whether it is some dead epoch's shadow
Or a living form. He looks again
At chalk spirals eroded by the rain,
The rust of tears. Thus, in a book picked up
From the ruins, you see a world erupt
And glitter with its distant sleepy past,
Green times of creatures tumbled to the vast
Abyss and backward..........


.............How is it that your breasts
Are pierced by shrapnel, and the oak groves burn,
While you, charmed, not caring at all, turn
To run through forests of machinery and concrete
And haunt us with the echoes of your feet',
If there is such an eternity, lush
Though short-lived, that's enough. But how ... hush!
We were predestined to live when the scene
Grows dim and the outline of a Greek ruin
Blackens the sky. It is noon, and wandering
Through a dark building, you see workers sitting
Down to a fire a narrow ray of sunlight
Kindles on the floor. They have dragged out
Heavy books and made a table of them
And begun to cut their bread. In good time
A tank will clatter past, a streetcar chime.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Piranesi’s complete graphic works
All 1,440 works of the 29 volumes

Plato's Cave, Piranesi's Prison, and the Subway
Marshal Berman


It is said that the first idea of the Prisons came to Piranesi in the delirium of fever. What is certain, however, is that this first idea was not the last; for some of the etchings exist in early states, in which many of the most characteristic and disquieting details of the Prisons we now know are lacking. From this it is to be inferred that the state of mind expressed by these etchings was, in Piranesi, chronic and in some sort normal. Fever may originally have suggested the Prisons; but in the years which elapsed between Piranesi’s first essays and the final publication of the plates, recurrent moods of confusion and acedia and angst must have been responsible for such obscure but, as we now see, indispensable symbols as the ropes, the aimless engines, the makeshift wooden stairs and bridges.
Aldous Huxley on Piranesi’s Prisons
courtesy of John Coulthart at { feuilleton }
Beyond the real, historical prisons of too much tidiness and those where anarchy engenders the hell of physical and moral chaos there lie yet other prisons, no less terrible for being fantastic and unembodied—the metaphysical prisons, whose seat is within the mind, whose walls are made of nightmare and incomprehension, whose chains are anxiety and their racks a sense of personal and even generic guilt. De Quincey’s Oxford Street and the road in which he had his vision of sudden death were prisons of this kind. So was the luxurious inferno described by Beckford in Vathek. So were the castles, the court-rooms, the penal colonies inhabited by the personages of Kafka’s novels. And, passing from the world of words to that of forms, we find these same metaphysical prisons delineated with incomparable force in the strangest and in some ways the most beautiful of Piranesi’s etchings.(...)

...these extraordinary etchings have continued, through two centuries, to seem completely relevant and modern not merely in their formal aspects, but also as expressions of obscure psychological truths. To use a once popular religious phrase, they spoke to the condition of Coleridge and De Quincey at the height of the Romantic reaction; and they speak no less eloquently to the condition of twentieth century men and women brought up on the literature, imaginative or descriptive, of deep psychology. That which Piranesi represents is not subject to historical change. He is not, like Hogarth, recording the facts of contemporary social life. Nor is he trying, like Bentham, to design a mechanism that shall change the nature of such facts. His concern is with states of the soul—states that are largely independent of external circumstances, states that recur whenever Nature, at her everlasting game of chance, combines the hereditary factors of physique and temperament in certain patterns.


Antonin Kratochvil

Antonín Kratochvíl interview
Part 1 and Part 2
Radio Prague

via Jim Johnson


A Brief History of the Future of Urban Computing and Locative Media
Anne Galloway's PhD Dissertation


new material at nthposition


Manufactured scarcity
The profits of deindustrialisation
James Heartfield


underground tar factory
Romania photo
Antonín Kratochvíl


I too am aware of the trunk that stretches loathsomely back of me along the floor. I too am a many-visaged thing that has climbed upward out of the dark of endless leaf falls, and has slunk, furred, through the glitter of blue glacial nights. I, the professor trembling absurdly on the platform with my book and spectacles, am the single philosophical animal. I am the unfolding worm, and mud fish, the weird tree of Igdrasil shaping itself endlessly out of darkness toward the light.
    —  Loren Eiseley, The Firmament of Time

Loren Eiseley
September 3rd, 1907 - July, 9th, 1977

Searching for Loren Eiseley:
An Attempt at Reconstruction from a Few Fragments
Gene V Glass

No matter how much one might see in Eiseley's work, in the end to call it "mystical" is faint-hearted, a withholding of comprehension, perhaps even a staunching of an emotional response. One wishes to bar from conscious experience the unwelcome thoughts of death and love that Eiseley evokes with tangible objects and common actions. Mysticism is that which can not be rationally grasped; a work deemed mystical need not be fully apprehended and may be forgotten more easily. In this respect, an attitude toward literature may imitate an attitude toward dreams. A dreamer may transform his dreams into psychodrama or pick through them in search of archetypes and residue of the collective unconscious of the race; both routes bypass the terror of the dream, the terror that justifies the work of disguise that is characteristic of many dreams and some art. The inclination of mind that too quickly relegates either a dream or work of art to the category of mysticism may fail to understand either.

I wish most to dispell any notion that Eiseley was some sort of cosmic guru, a seer with eyes trained on the empty darkness beyond the solar system about which he wrote so much. He was a scientist with a poet's gifts. As he grew older, his scholarly writings grew more evocative and poetic, and he dared to publish more poetry. He died in 1977, less than two months short of his seventieth birthday; in 1975, he published an autobiography, All the Strange Hours. For twenty years, Eiseley had been digging at the site of his past life. In a poem or an essay, he would uncover a bone, regard it contemplatively, then toss it aside. In All the Strange Hours, he excavated an entire life. To understand Eiseley's writings, they must be read in reverse sequence. The autobiography is the key to the images and reflections that make up his ten books and few hundred poems. Eiseley's autobiography is easily one the most psychologically penetrating works to be published in a generation. It is built out of the reflections of an insomniac, from the recollections and night thoughts that come to a melancholic after the television set is shut off and the night grows too late for friends to telephone.

Returning Insight to Storytelling:
Science, Stories, and Loren Eiseley
Jason Sanford


These Lacustrine Cities
John Ashbery

These lacustrine cities grew out of loathing
Into something forgetful, although angry with history.
They are the product of an idea: that man is horrible, for instance,
Though this is only one example.

They emerged until a tower
Controlled the sky, and with artifice dipped back
Into the past for swans and tapering branches,
Burning, until all that hate was transformed into useless love.

Then you are left with an idea of yourself
And the feeling of ascending emptiness of the afternoon
Which must be charged to the embarrassment of others
Who fly by you like beacons.

The night is a sentinel.
Much of your time has been occupied by creative games
Until now, but we have all-inclusive plans for you.
We had thought, for instance, of sending you to the middle of the desert,

To a violent sea, or of having the closeness of the others be air
To you, pressing you back into a startled dream
As sea-breezes greet a child’s face.
But the past is already here, and you are nursing some private project.

The worst is not over, yet I know
You will be happy here. Because of the logic
Of your situation, which is something no climate can outsmart.
Tender and insouciant by turns, you see

You have built a mountain of something,
Thoughtfully pouring all your energy into this single monument,
Whose wind is desire starching a petal,
Whose disappointment broke into a rainbow of tears.


A Philosopher Lecturing
with a Mechanical Planetary
Joseph Wright of Derby


We no longer dream over a book in which a small voice, a constant companion, observes, exhorts, or sighs with us through the pangs of youth or age. Today we are more likely to sit before a screen and dream the mass dream which comes from outside.
    - Loren Eiseley, The Night Country

Curtis Mann interview
with Jörg Colberg

It might be easier to create the aesthetic of my images digitally but I feel that the physical processes I use has a strong metaphoric meaning and conceptual connection to the ideas I am interested in. Terms like erosion, destruction, erasure or imperfection are always bouncing around in my head while making my work or scouring images that represent pretty complex places. I hope for my manipulations to facilitate a new way of engaging these ideas on a more obtuse, less obvious manner.

Photographs have the amazing ability of making the viewer forget or ignore the fact that they are looking at a thing, an object.

Of course, a whole new dialogue begins when we start completely viewing images via screens and computers. This is an interesting new arena to think about and consider how this system can be disrupted or rethought in a continued pursuit of breaking down our processes of looking at and understanding images. (....)

The mechanical reproduction of seemingly endless amounts of perfect photographs starts to encourage us to consume them faster, trying to keep up; but at that we start to cut down on time spent really challenging what we are looking at, thinking about it and then rethinking it.

All of the little scrapes, scratches, crumples, peeled areas in my work function as a way to keep a viewer around just a little bit longer, engaged long enough that maybe a different part of their brain might start reconsidering initial ideas or understandings. I hope that emphasizing the unique qualities of individual pieces in my work can encourage someone looking at the front page picture of a newspaper to slow down, look at that image and move around it both physically and mentally.

(Beirut), 2008
Curtis Mann

in the St. Lawrence


St/Range: An Uncertain Range

... outside we are building a future home in which we will never inhabit. We can only inhabit that which will disapear with us, that which does not survive us, i.e., ourselves. We are our home, this infinitesimal second - die Sekunde, diese Kunde (Werner Hamacher thus reads a line from Celan) - of presence to ourselves we imagine in retrospect to have been us present to ourselves when we/it is already too late, gone, a cadaver as we move into a here that , even before we can dot the I of our quasi-presence, has become a there. (....)

Like pebbles, rounded, smoothed familiar shapes, made so by the eternal return of the waves. Le ressassement, says Blanchot: the sifting, winnowing, again and again, repeating, harking back to & on - an eternity that can be reduced to time by turning the sieve into an oracle, "faire tourner le sas," making it turn magically and when it stops reading the result, "diese Kunde." Or like the pebbles under the tongue to learn to shout over the waves, a poetry of sounds, with pebbles eventually smoothed in saliva's acid? Like pebbles, I said, these citations of others in my texts, strange stones, foreign agents against which break or wash up my own sentences in the making, across which I can make my way to the other side without drowning in the familiar.

A Nomad Poetics
Essays by Pierre Joris

Pittsburgh Memory
Romare Bearden (1964).


How to Avoid Being Paranoid
Melissa Gregg reviews Eve Sedgwick's Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity

Gleaned from the writings of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, and extended more recently in the work of Foucault and Butler, the `hermeneutics of suspicion' lately popular in the humanities has created a paradigm Sedgwick calls `paranoid reading.' In the gorgeously titled chapter, `Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You're So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay is About You,' this epistemology is shown to be premised on an overwhelming investment in `exposing' and thereby resolving a perceived injustice, grievance, or impropriety. It is a genre of criticism that has spread through various disciplines and relies on an imagined hiddenness: `What marks the paranoid impulse... is... the seeming faith in exposure... as though to make something visible as a problem were, if not a mere hop, skip, and jump away from getting it solved, at least self-evidently a step in that direction' . This preoccupation with exposure worries Sedgwick because of its reliance on
an infinite reservoir of naïveté in those who make up the audience for these unveilings. What is the basis for assuming that it will surprise or disturb, never mind motivate, anyone to learn that a given social manifestation is artificial, self-contradictory, imitative, phantasmatic, or even violent?... How television-starved would someone have to be to find it shocking that ideologies contradict themselves, that simulacra don't have originals, or that gender representations are artificial? (

...the landscape for the work of cultural criticism changes quickly, and Sedgwick urges vigilance in assessing the usefulness of our preferred hermeneutics:

..the force of any interpretive project of unveiling hidden violence would seem to depend on a cultural context, like the one assumed in Foucault's early works, in which violence would be deprecated and hence hidden in the first place. Why bother exposing the rules of power in a country where, at any given moment, 40 percent of young black men are enmeshed in the penal system? In the United States and internationally, while there is plenty of hidden violence that requires exposure there is also, and increasingly, an ethos where forms of violence that are hypervisible from the start may be offered as an exemplary spectacle rather than remain to be unveiled as a scandalous secret.

Romare Bearden
September 2, 1911-March 12, 1988

Romare Bearden Foundation.

Tomorrow I May Be Far Away
Romare Bearden


The Body Aches
[Poems and Hay(na)ku]
Ernesto Priego
The body aches

How difficult it is, the body tells you, to keep a promise:
To say, painlessly, j'accepte, and keep your word.

I mean the words in those books,
The lips imprinted in pale red, almost purple.

The first page that so quickly became the last,
Among us, what a title, you think now.

How come the book is still here, unread,
Waiting patiently for the ache to go away.

Ernesto blogs at Never Neutral

Beech tree
Tehidy Woods
Charles Winpenny
Cornwall Cam


Upwardly mobile
Robert Macfarlane
exploring the literature of tree-climbing

For three years now, I have been climbing the same tree - a 30-foot beech in a woodland near my Cambridge home. Beeches make the best climbing trees: the grippiness of their grey bark, the radiance of their branches. I have come to know my beech well. I have climbed it at dawn, dusk and noon, and in all weathers. Climbing the tree has become a way to get perspective, however slight; to look down on a landscape that I usually look across.

The sequence of my ascent is now familiar: catch, swing, mantel, reach, haul, reach, rise. And so on up to around 25 feet, where there's a fork of branches that makes a good resting point. I've found that if I stay still near the tree's summit for a few minutes, dog-walkers will pass underneath without noticing me. People don't generally expect to see men in trees. If I stay still for longer, the birds return: blackbirds fussing in the leaf litter, nervous grey partridges. Birds don't generally expect to see men in trees, either.


Giant Java Fig tree
Undercover Nerd

Ten Thousand Trees

Festival of the Trees #27
blog carnival

thanks to Via Negativa


Souls, Minds, Bodies and Planets Part 1 and 2
Mary Midgley


M/C Journal
Vol. 11, No. 4 (2008)

Ghosts in Machines and a Snapshot of Scholarly Journal Publishing in Canada
Johanne Provençal

The Politics of Open-Access Publishing:
M/C Journal, Public Intellectualism, and Academic Discourses of Legitimacy
Peta Mitchell



“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. . .but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. . . Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be alright.”
    -   Søren Kierkegaard, letter to Jette (1847)

The Observer Translation Project
an international magazine of Romanian writing in translation

Derepaj / Skid
Ion Manolescu
Translated by: Jean Harris, Florin Bican

Most people sleep at night. They conk out, out of pure nerves and helplessness, not to mention the odd case of fatigue. No one ever asks them what deeply rational reason they have to waste 204,400 hours, which is to say 8,516 days, which comes to 23.3 years of their lives not saying a word and snoring: four and a half billion individuals knocked out cold, reduced to vegetables or anemones, plunging with healthy abandon night after night into—even they don’t know what. Seventy years spread over a pie chart with a slice cut out. I’ve been trying for a long time to figure out what’s going on in their heads when they close their eyes. What irresponsible composure lets them accept total separation from whatever keeps them from turning back into vegetables or ash—serenely, with open arms, without the slightest guarantee they’ll ever wake up? There are no guarantees, but they all go for broke. Ask any one. He’ll tell you he’s been sleeping like a new born babe.

Personally, I smell fresh earth each time I lay my head on the pillow.

Still, needing my sleep, I came up with a solution after a while: I’d disconnect my body without renouncing my mind. Plugged into the network of my thoughts, my brain would go on working behind my eyelids. My flesh on stand-by, my muscles would twitch on and off. You could pinch my toes and I wouldn’t feel a thing. With my nerves, it was more complex. Half turned to stone. The other half kept sending electric signals. Then I’d start my little neuro-economic electromotor. It helped me pass like a phantom through my numbed out body. Sixty-five kilograms snoozed—I told you, I think, I’m on the skinny side—all watched over by a few microns of information.
via the Literary Saloon

lanark hedgerow


Barely a few years into the new century, many have concluded that that “posthistorical” ideal is radically insufficient. Kojève’s model was structured in such a way that major historical events and changes would always seem minor—Kojève himself dismissed the importance of World War II, arguing that it was little more than a preparation for the final stage of a grand synthesis of American capitalism and Soviet collectivism (the ultimate state -sponsored consumer society, in other words). But something else—a new event, if we can call it that—has appeared that puts into question the very possibility of ending history and above all ending it because the “labor of the negative” has been completed. The very centrality of human labor is one of the things most in question.
Bataille's Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability
Allan Stoekl

download here


Shall I Read from the History of the Battle of Thermopylae?
Richard Deming 

Now that there is nothing left, for instance,
the taste of fear dries the upper lip.
            Wood-doves rustle coppery wings along city
gates. What I want is to not want,
            not you, not the scent of mango, not the livid
faces of fashion models, their necks
            arching perversely upward.
                        Not a single moment.

            The cigarette smoke’s shapes auger thirty
                                     mornings of fraught
                        silences, cold tea, that flickering anger
            of morning
talk shows and an empty table set for three: for you,
                        for me, for the polite ghost of intensest
            A quince no one will eat rolls
                                     behind a stove cold
                                                 to the touch.
When things go bad, it gets like this.

Richard Deming - Two Poems

Green Sandpipper
Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust


Bishop's Time [PDF]
William H. Pritchard

The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake,
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.

The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.

—Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them,
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.


The only allusion in these stanzas, indeed in the whole poem, is to the first line of Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” (“To see the world in a grain of sand”), since this is a Blakean sandpiper in its awkward but controlled panic. Robert Lowell once remarked sardonically that no one, except for St. Anthony or a catatonic, wants to see the world in a grain of sand, but this little sandpiper seems wholly committed to the project.

Writing of photography, Walter Benjamin incautiously explained: "It prepares that salutary movement by which man and the surrounding world become alien to each other, opening up a field in which all intimacy yields to the illumination of detail."

This precisely describes the endocolonization of a world without intimacy which we are seeing - a world which has become alien and obscene, entirely given over to information technologies and the over-exposure of detail.

The information bomb
Paul Virilio
Translated by Chris Turner

download here


Noli me tangere
Jan Brueghel the Younger
(September 13, 1601 – September 1, 1678)


Produce / Deduce / Simulate
The Electronic Display and the Age of the Hyperreal
Aron Hsiao

Today the human body would seem to be present only as the abstract justification for the finished form of the functional object...In the face of the functional object the human being becomes dysfunctional, irrational and subjective: an empty form, open therefore to the mythology of the functional, to projected phantasies stemming from the stupefying efficiency of the outside world.
   -  -- Jean Baudrillard

If one were determined to be flip, one could say that we live in the age of the electronic display. That which is displayed electronically must surely be real. That which can not be displayed electronically -- or which for some furtive reason cannot be found anywhere in the displayable electronic universe -- is suspect, or at the very least anachronistic, a corpse inhabiting the realm of the historical. We gaze eternally and compulsively at our screens and digital paper, at our status panels and our luminescent readouts, finding in the electronic display the lost solidity of those things that have otherwise apparently melted, from within the fortress of their once unassailable embodiment, into air. That which is dead has taken on the tenor of life. That which is merely alive appears to us under the sign of death.

But is such sophistry actually flip at all? Indeed, the collapse of epistemology and ontology into phenomenology -- perhaps, one might even say, the triumph of phenomenology -- appears to be a defining characteristic of our age, the late modern age -- the informated age. In the end, of course, this collapse is the true source (or is it the true manifestation -- it becomes increasingly difficult to sense the difference) of the "relativity" to which science, philosophy, and culture alike have become subject. In discovering and making a sovereign of the subject qua the religion of rationality, we have unwittingly lost the identity of the object, whose soul and very corporeality have become epiphenomena of our own location, of our own subjectivity, of our own agency in a kind of postmodernizing praxis whose motivations appear to be bound up, like time and space before them, with the essentially mediated ethos -- indeed, the simulacral order -- of our time.


Jean Morris


I could be blogging
or I could watch the red dog running in the field
Lucia Perillo

Despite this experiment with blogging, I remain jittery about how computers have changed our experience of poetry, and our experience with each other, which is a bigger question that isn't suitable to being addressed in something as ephemeral as a blog entry. Some quick thoughts though, from a computer know-nuttin, Harriet's one and only dial-up blogger…

Hardy Hip-Hop
courtesy of Nick Piombino
Thoughts at Midnight
Thomas Hardy Mankind, you dismay me When shadows waylay me!-
...by your madnesses
Capping cool badnesses,
Acting like puppets
Under Time's buffets;
In superstitions
And ambitions
Moved by no wisdom,
Far sight, or system,
Led by sheer senselessness
And presciencelessness
Into unreason
And hideous self-treason....
God, look he on you,
Have mercy upon you!


Omar Vega
2007 black and white spider awards


Welcome To The Terrordome
Jonathan Schwarz

...before long, there will only be two options for the people who want to run things. First, they could organize a rational liquidation of much of the empire, which would free up enough resources to create a long-term winning coalition. Second, they could go completely bugfuck nuts, and try to maintain the empire while cutting back on all social benefits and counting on the thrills of military triumph and chialism to keep them in power. What won't be possible is the Obama-Biden approach.

In other words, the days of a rational American empire are drawing to a close. We'll be forced to discard either the empire part, or the rational part. And based on 10,000 years of human history, I'm guessing it's the rational part that will go.

Whether McCain wins or not, Sarah Palin is a harbinger of the future. The fact there was no one able to prevent McCain from choosing such an obviously inadequate imperial manager, and choosing her in such a bizarre, panicked way, indicates that—as during the decline of Rome, or the last years of Saddam's regime—everyone sane has already been eliminated from the power structure. And thus we're left with nothing but the whim of whoever's clambered to the top of the Crazy Pole.

"Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for oneself"

"The Prisoner" Opening credits/sequence

The Prisoner documentary

1 2 3 4 5


The system
Joe Bageant

Despite what the American left believes, we cannot blame politicians and corporations for everything. At some point waaaaay back there it was our human and social responsibility to stand up, throw ourselves "onto the wheels of the machine," as Mario Savio put it forty years ago. And we did not. Instead we allowed and continue to allow the persecution of those who did or still do. And on and on it goes. Forty-five years after Allen Ginsberg wrote "Howl" I am still seeing the best minds of my generation sobbing on the madhouse steps. Seeing them be medicated, lose marriages, rant on the Internet for years, then give up hope. It's like screaming into a vacuum. You mouth moves but the somnambulant crowd passes silently by in oblivion.(....)

I wish I could at least call this denial. But if people are incapable of even perceiving the facts because of state conditioning, serving up the facts is useless. Which is why all that powerful truth out there on the net has no real effect. It exists outside our indoctrination's reference framework. Therefore it does not exist. What exists is the system. The ward on which we all live and secretly fear Nurse Ratchett. But it is still the system and the U.S. is still a ward in which the citizen patients are carefully observed and managed to best result for the corporate state. Best result meaning economical producers and consumers for (allegedly) free market capitalism. And every patient and affinity group has a cherished unreality which allows them to live in denial. For instance, there is the cherished notion among liberal and left leaning Americans that all this is recent, and sprang up simply because George Bush was elected. I don't think so friends. No one man can establish cruelty in 300 million people in eight years. He can only heighten it by squeezing the people harder, encouraging fear and alienation and coldness of spirit.