wood s lot        december 1 - 15, 2008

Clare Leighton


The Great Depression


I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

  - Muriel Rukeyser

Muriel Rukeyser poems

Muriel Rukeyser
(15 December 1913 – 12 February 1980

Out of Silence: Selected Poems

A Mater of Fact and Vision: The Objectivity Question and Muriel Rukeyser's "The Book of the Dead"
Shoshana Wechsler

Muriel Rukeyser Goes to War:
Pragmatism, Pluralism, and the Politics of Ekphrasis
Raphael C Allison

... a fact from Rukeyser's biography that is sometimes noted but rarely stressed: in the summer of 1942 she went to work as a "Visual Information Specialist" for the Office of War Information (OWI) and remained until her acrimonious resignation on May 18,1943.(....)

Rukeyser's brief tenure as a propagandist at the OWI is represented by a single sentence or footnote in much of the scholarship on her life and work, yet during this period of her career Rukeyser underwent significant changes intellectually and stylistically.3 Prior to and during her time at the OWI, Rukeyser was developing a theory about the recombinative effects of words and visual or graphic images that she eventually transformed into a literary style of politically engaged ekphrasis (poetry descriptive of visual texts) that she first employed in her five-part long war poem,"Ajanta" (1944). A straight line can be drawn from Rukeyser's ideas about the combination of words and images at the OWI to her subsequent adoption of ekphrasis as a genre of political poetry: both the war poster and the ekphrastic poem rely upon multiple forms of communication, linguistic and imagistic, to mediate their messages ("image" here and elsewhere will refer to visual rather than linguistic or aural images). For Rukeyser, this use of multiple formal elements recalled the kind of pluralism she felt defined the American war effort and that contradicted the uniform, dominating ideologies of fascism and totalitarianism. In this essay I argue that Rukeyser turned to ekphrasis for her major war poem in part because she felt that a nation fighting for democratic pluralism needed a poetry that could accommodate more than one perspective. The importance of this political and aesthetic shift is further suggested by Rukeyser's use of ekphrasis for her two other five-part, political long poems that follow "Ajanta":"Waterlily Fire" (1962) describes the burning of Monet's triptych at the Modern Museum of Art in New York, and "Kathe Kollwitz" (1968) depicts Kollwitz's well-known prints.


Under the Queensborough Bridge
Imogen Cunningham


Seventh Avenue
Muriel Rukeyser

This is the cripple’s hour on Seventh Avenue
when they emerge, the two o’clock night-walkers,
the cane, the crutch, and the black suit.
Oblique early mirages send the eyes:
night dramatized in puddles, the animal glare
that makes indignity, makes the brute.
Not enough effort in the sky for morning.
No color, pantomime of blackness, landscape
where the third layer black is always phantom

Here comes the fat man, the attractive dog-chested
legless—and the wounded infirm king
with nobody to use him as a saint. 

Now they parade in the dark, the cripples’ hour
to the drugstore, the bar, the newspaper-stand,
past kissing shadows on a window-shade to
colors of alcohol, reflectors, light.
Wishing for trial to prove their innocence
with one straight simple look: 

the look to set this avenue in its colors—
two o’clock on a black street instead of
wounds, mysteries, fables, kings
in a kingdom of cripples.


Frozen Assets
Diego Rivera

A Depression Art Gallery


Cars: If "Buy American" Were History
Marcia DeSanctis

This "Buy American" mantra, familiar to many post-war baby boomers, is why it is almost impossible to comprehend the collapse of the American auto industry. From abandoned car lots still festooned with flag garland, to a Super Bowl denuded of car ads, the effects will be felt literally everywhere. One expert quoted in the Observer (UK) estimates the loss of three million jobs. That means that not only the backbone of what remains of the United States' once-great manufacturing economy will be shattered, but the collateral damage could be boundless. Looking at it not only economically, but symbolically, we can't sit back and watch the biggest car crash in history.

The auto industry suffered from that particular American affliction: optimism. This defining quality makes hope's eternal promise the lens through which we look at our country and its possibilities. There is no Indian Dream, or Icelandic Dream. On this earth there is only the American one, and its power lies in its ability, for one example, to elect Barack Obama for President. But when optimism is a euphemism for arrogant disregard for facts, analysis or research, or for barreling through an agenda without a reality check - as if nothing bad can ever happen - this can be catastrophic. (see: Iraq War) Too many U.S. resources have been put into securing petroleum supply (see again: Iraq War). This gave - optimistic - Americans reason to believe that driving habits don't have to change and that the punchbowl would flow forever. This gave carmakers license to churn out and market the behemoths that trumpet their 16-18 mpg as if this is a good thing. They were derelict, lacked vision. They sued states who wanted to change their emission standards. And if you did not have a visceral reaction to those anthemic Humvee ads still running when gas cost $4.50 a gallon, you must have been dozing.


sit-down strike
Flint 1936-37
Fisher Body Plant

A Photo Essay on the Great Depression


"this “theory” that is desocialised and dehistoricised at its roots has, today more than ever, the means of making itself true and empirically verifiable. In effect, neoliberal discourse is not just one discourse among many. Rather, it is a “strong discourse” — the way psychiatric discourse is in an asylum"
The Essence Of Neoliberalism
Pierre Bourdieu
Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro
Can it be expected that the extraordinary mass of suffering produced by this sort of political-economic regime will one day serve as the starting point of a movement capable of stopping the race to the abyss? Indeed, we are faced here with an extraordinary paradox. The obstacles encountered on the way to realising the new order of the lone, but free individual are held today to be imputable to rigidities and vestiges. All direct and conscious intervention of whatever kind, at least when it comes from the state, is discredited in advance and thus condemned to efface itself for the benefit of a pure and anonymous mechanism, the market, whose nature as a site where interests are exercised is forgotten. But in reality, what keeps the social order from dissolving into chaos, despite the growing volume of the endangered population, is the continuity or survival of those very institutions and representatives of the old order that is in the process of being dismantled, and all the work of all of the categories of social workers, as well as all the forms of social solidarity, familial or otherwise.

In the end however, hope is the junk food of the mind and soul. It is the murky, undefined belief that some unknown force, perhaps Jesus or modern science or some great political leader, or other as yet unknown force will reverse our national or personal condition will deliver us from the results of living in a perpetual state of childhood. Hope is magical thinking, a sucker's game. Politicians the world round fully understand this.
  - Joe Bageant

From My Lorenzo [PDF]
Sébastien Smirou
translated from the French by Andrew Zawacki

the may of the states’ pax plays i accept all while the love of lucrezia belle donati rose’s flesh forges the force at last of his twenty years thrust him chlorophylllike thru a green plant so thither to the tourney of anthology my magnificent (to the hurried reader the high feat the grand anthological tournament ain’t a world cup lifted from books but a game of jousts that pierce the screen of time they’re joshing us around and mark the memory of the newborn and the un-)

in the preceding procession lorenzo’s toque fumed escapes an “in or of what are thoughts made” thought up briskly whisked with a hand puffed out the torso returns the eye of my lorenzo bunts bypasses far from fixed on the fanfare florence doe-eyes bows before its prince has twenty milord springs this spring straddles a bay stallion a gay gift we assay from the kid hands of the king from where from naples to wit whistles one who elbows his neighbors hey easy there


At Point Lobos
Imogen Cunningham


“Haying Before Storm”
Muriel Rukeyser
from The Collected Poems (1978).

This sky is unmistakable. Not lurid, not low, not black.
Illuminated and bruise-color, limitless, to the noon
Full of its floods to come. Under it, field, wheels, and mountain,
The valley scattered with friends, gathering in
Live-colored harvest, filling their arms; not seeming to hope
Not seeming to dread, doing.
I stand where I can see
Holding a small pitcher, coming in toward
The doers and the day.
These images are all
Themselves emerging : they face their moment, love or go down,
A blade of the strong hay stands like light before me.
The sky is a torment on our eyes, the sky
Will not wait for this golden, it will not wait for form.
There is hardly a moment to stand before the storm.
There is hardly time to lay hand to the great earth.
Or time to tell again what power shines past storm. 

Hay In Art
A collection of great works of hay.

The Bridge
Stanley Spencer

251 images here


words. matter.
jane dark

...the 20th century has (at least) two clear traditions of a centralized and planned economy. One is what our patriots call socialism. The other is (tellingly) ever more forgotten and ever more with us, which is something like Alfredo Rocco's (and later Mussolini's) corporatism, which can be recognized in mutations of the developmental state such as Singapore or South Korea. And it strikes us that, of these "two nationalizations," it is the latter that we are swerving toward. Tellingly, Russia's spasm of nationalizations simply makes evident that the Soviet Union's final economic form wasn't communism at all, for there is no return to worker ownership or anything of the sort, but a reversal of their own disastrous neoliberal adventure, state-made oligarchy retooling for global hard times.

One way of describing what has happened in the US is this. Thirtyfive years ago, the state more or less decided to let capital go off its meds and to concentrate on its duties as bodyguard instead. Eventually, capital got too nutty to function, doing extraordinary damage to human lives en route (as well as to the environment where those lives expire, obviously enough). So now the state has stepped in to rescue capitalism — this is the historic mission of the new President and his old economic team — by returning it to a healthier regimen. Because it turns out, just as promised, that capitalism isn't in fact capable of "healthy" self-medication. In the face of a contraction toward a no-growth economy, corporatist state planning is merely necessary. And, to repeat, this is what we talk about when we talk about nationalization, of late.

So one might say that we are seeing not the tender creep of socialist possibilities into the national discourse, but their further erasure. Every time that we agree that the word "socialism" might refer to something other than, at a minimum, worker ownership if not indeed the end of surplus value extraction; every time that we misrecognize state corporatism as something other than a moment in capital's "equilibrium in motion," we "turn the wheel of discursive normativity a click" away from socialism. We forget what that word promises. Perhaps the most optimistic memory, as Jasper reminded us, is that the corporatist regimes have arisen historically in the fact of popular socialist challenges — but that in no way guarantees the motion will summon forth such a movement via some blind mechanism of counterweights.

via ads without products


Paul Éluard
b, Dec. 14, 1895
portrait by Dali

Paul Éluard at PoemHunter

Twenty-Four Poems
Paul Éluard
Translated by A. S. Kline

Éluard's Clock of Secret Weddings and Memories and the Present, translated by Lisa Lubasch

At the Window
Paul Éluard

I have not always had this certainty, this pessimism which reassures the best among us. There was a time when my friends laughed at me. I was not the master of my words. A certain indifference, I have not always known well what I wanted to say, but most often it was because I had nothing to say. The necessity of speaking and the desire not to be heard. My life hanging only by a thread.

There was a time when I seemed to understand nothing. My chains floated on the water.

All my desires are born of my dreams. And I have proven my love with words. To what fantastic creatures have I entrusted myself, in what dolorous and ravishing world has my imagination enclosed me? I am sure of having been loved in the most mysterious of domains, my own. The language of my love does not belong to human language, my human body does not touch the flesh of my love. My amorous imagination has always been constant and high enough so that nothing could attempt to convince me of error.


What is so relevant about relevance? Is there a compelling counterargument for poetic irrelevance? Does such an argument inevitably become another argument for relevance, albeit in a negative form?

  - K. Silem Mohammad, Poetic Relevance


The Manufacturing of History
A Review of The Blue Manuscript by Sabina Al Khemir
Ron Jacobs

History is many things, but most of all it is a story. It is a story told by many different voices. The visitor, the vanquished and those on neither side. It is multi-layered and it is multidimensional. It is linear and it is as nebulous as those pictures of galactic clouds one sees through a high powered telescope situated in a mountaintop observatory. It is tragedy and and it is mirth. It is dead and it is living. It is real and it is contrived. We live the way we do because of it and we make others 'future by the history we create now. But, most of all, it is a story. In the world we live in, the story most of us know is the one told by the victors. The occupiers and colonizers. The owners, not the tenants.

The Blue Manuscript captures these many essences of history. Al Khemir's metaphor of the archaeological dig presents history as both dead and layered. Each timespan unearthed by the diggers represents a historical period that is static to the scientists. To the people in the village, meanwhile, it represents another verification of the beliefs they currently hold. The final chapters reveal the literal creation of a history that becomes accepted as truth despite its false origins. This creation of history becomes fact because the victors say it is and because the vanquished decide that it is better to let it be so.


... people will believe what they want to believe. If they can make FDR the cause of the Great Depression, they can do anything. But one thing progressives can do is make sure that the story of the Bush administration is told, in all respects. There's going to be huge pressure from the usual suspects to let bygones be bygones, to forget about everything from torture to reckless disregard of financial warnings. But I want truth and reconciliation across the board, and progressives have to make it clear that it was an ideology, not an act of God, that made this crisis possible.
  - Paul Krugman's depression economics

Wars and conflicts are not inevitable. They are caused by human beings. There are always interests that are furthered by war. Therefore those who have power and influence can also stop them.
Nobel Lecture by Martti Ahtisaari
10 December 2008.
Peace is a question of will. All conflicts can be settled, and there are no excuses for allowing them to become eternal. It is simply intolerable that violent conflicts defy resolution for decades causing immeasurable human suffering, and preventing economic and social development.

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
b. Dec. 14, 1824


No Answer
Robert Gibbons
Hopelessness & despair are abstractions arising out of brittle, cold bones, coarse, unwashed skin, gnawing emptiness of stomach, aching aching aching in every moving moment, one-limbed, wheelchair, bad eye, torn back, broke brain. Can anyone take for granted man’s inestimable capacity for suffering? Americans, I ask more or less, rhetorically.

Bedrock faith in the Pentagon's massive capacity for inflicting violence is implicit in the nostrums from anointed foreign-policy experts. The echo chamber is echoing: the Afghanistan war is worth the cost that others will pay.
  - Norman Solomon, The Silent Winter of Escalation

"God Is With Us": Hitler's Rhetoric and the Lure of "Moral Values"
Maureen Farrell


thoughts on Christmas
Limited, Inc.

Christmas, too, was a favorite of the Nazis. An officially sanctioned favorite. Long before Bill O’Reilly discovered that Christmas was being traduced by traitors from within, the Nazis had found in Christmas a powerful way to promote a number of their most signal policies. Hitler’s state was the first modern guns and butter regime, and such regimes require a resilient consumer sector. The most zealous Nazis tried to make Weihnacht into a more Aryan holiday, promoting the use of Yule, for instance. But the effect of the Nazi re-inflation in Germany is more coolly represented in Heimat, which shows the high point of the thirties as a Christmas – the Christmas of 1937 or 1938, I believe. Sebald mentions the mythical Christmases of the 30s in his book on the Air War. The Fox news emphasis on the American-ness of this peculiar holiday simply follows, blindly, a logic at work in war culture economies – the identity of country and consumerism in a holiday that sanctifies using a credit card or spending Deutsche marks.

War’s id finds, in Christmas, a particularly rich text. It is a place where all the many poisons in the system can come out as cranberry sauce and war games for the kids. Let them grow up remembering, on this festive occasion in which we can proudly look across the ocean to the piles and piles of Iraqi bodies, all murdered in an act of generosity by the great American people, that America is a uniquely benign super power, for which Jesu Christi was spangled on a Christmas tree. A great baby, a great savior, who never left home without his Visa card. Imagine, this year Santa is splashing through the blood of thousands of bad little Iraqi children just to bring American children, all nestled in their beds of democracy and CO2, the nicest little computer gifts global corporations can provide! Makes me feel warm and snug.


Bush's Final F.U.
The administration is rushing to enact a host of last-minute regulations that will screw America for years to come
Tim Dickinson

In its final days, the administration is rushing to implement a sweeping array of "midnight regulations" — de facto laws issued by the executive branch — designed to lock in Bush's legacy. Under the last- minute rules, which can be extremely difficult to overturn, loaded firearms would be allowed in national parks, uranium mining would be permitted near the Grand Canyon and many injured consumers would no longer be able to sue negligent manufacturers in state courts. Other rules would gut the Endangered Species Act, open millions of acres of wild lands to mining, restrict access to birth control and put local cops to work spying for the federal government.

"It's what we've seen for Bush's whole tenure, only accelerated," says Gary Bass, executive director of the nonpartisan group OMB Watch. "They're using regulation to cement their deregulatory mind-set, which puts corporate interests above public interests."

While every modern president has implemented last-minute regulations, Bush is rolling them out at a record pace — nearly twice as many as Clinton, and five times more than Reagan.

via Eliot Gelwan


Saint Francis and the Birds
Stanley Spencer


Parliament in chaos–just how Harper likes it
Ottawa hasn’t functioned effectively since May, and isn’t likely to start working soon
Paul Wells

The whole point of the fall election, we were told, was to give Harper some “open water” to govern without having to worry the opposition would do anything nasty, such as opposing him. The whole point. Certainty vs. chaos. Steady hand vs. the deluge. The voters granted him, for the second time, the awesome gift of power; he used it to steer a straight line away from open water into chaos and deluge, like some mad Ahab of parliamentary mischief.

In short, he’s been a bit of a twit, has our dear leader. It does us no good to have a Prime Minister who flies to Winnipeg and Peru singing Kumbaya if he can’t set foot in Parliament without bringing a blowtorch. He clearly cannot stand the place. That’s a problem because at some point, he’s going to need a functioning Parliament to get anything done.

Well, that’s a problem if he actually wants to do something. Turns out that’s a big “if.” (....)

From a springtime of committee chaos to a summer of ultimatums to a fall election, a December crisis, a tasty prorogue-y holiday feast, and the near certainty of another New Year psychodrama. I could swear there was a pattern in there. Blame the opposition if you like, but what olive branch did the PM hold out that they refused? Stephen Harper spent his whole adult life complaining that the state was no good for anything. Now, under him, it is so. Consistency at last.


The Politics of Literarity
Samuel Chambers
Theory & Event 8:3
pdf download

Somewhere between the "end of history" and the "return of the political" we can locate the writings of Jacques Ranciere and his effort to carve out a space of/for politics. Ranciere's work offers a provocative, powerful, and novel definition of democratic politics as the taking-part of those who have no part. This configuration of "democratic politics" must be unpacked, however, since it entails that democracy is not a regime. It is instead the practice of politics itself, where the latter can be defined as the conflictual meeting of two heterogeneous logics -- the logic of domination and the logic of equality. Obviously, Ranciere draws this description from a particular reading of the Greeks and of Athenian democracy, but the definition resonates so potently because it speaks directly to 21st century mass democracies, and particularly to certain variants of interest-group liberalism. The logic of politics radically interrupts the very consensus and quelling of conflict upon which interest-group pluralism rests, and Ranciere drives this point home by regrouping the workings of interest groups under the title "the logic of the police."

2. Even this skeletal account of Ranciere's unique and idiosyncratic project makes him out to sound like an important political theorist. And, indeed, he is. However, Ranciere insists that he is not a political philosopher and he actively avoids the common practice of most political theorists, i.e. to produce "theories." Wherever one might expect a theory from Ranciere, one instead finds quasi-concepts, productive phrases, or polemical articulations. For example, in opposition to Habermas's theory of communicative action (and the theory of deliberative democracy that has been built upon it) Ranciere intentionally fails to produce an alternative theory of political communication. Instead, he offers explorations and meditations on "disagreement," an idea that explodes the very possibility of communicative rationality.

3. Thus, one must tread carefully in approaching Ranciere's politico-theoretic work, since many of the typical approaches to political theory will not work with Ranciere. My project here will be to pose the question of language -- by which I include inquiries concerning speech, writing, texts, discourses, etc. -- to the work of Ranciere. Yet, as should be expected given the above description, Ranciere maintains that his work neither challenges other theories of language nor presupposes its own. He conceptualizes politics in such a way as to contend that there simply is no need for a philosophy of language, and when queried on his "theory of language" he simply evades the question. I accept Ranciere's point that a radical democratic politics must not be grounded in a deep ontology, nor should it be founded upon a strict philosophy of language or theory of the language/subject relation.

4. But Ranciere's writings hold a second, if perhaps more implicit, answer to "the question of language." It is literarity.

via Pro-logus

Deep North
Chris Larson

via roo


Towards an Infinitesimal Novel: An Interview with Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Laurrent Demoulin

LD: Camera is probably your most self-referential book . . . The first sentence, for instance, is almost a manifesto.

JPT: Yes, you’re right, it’s a manifesto, a program. I don’t know how aware of this I was. But still, it took me over a month to write the first paragraph. I still know it by heart. “It was at about the same time in my life, a calm life in which ordinarily nothing happened, that two events coincided, events that, taken separately, were of hardly any interest, and that, considered together, were unfortunately not connected in any way.” It’s a very radical opening, and it really is having fun with the readers. Here I am, a thirty-year-old writer saying: “What I’m about to tell you is absolutely irrelevant.” In other words: “I’m about to make you feel foolish.” It’s a very impertinent opening. I’m responding very offhandedly to Kafka’s famous aphorism: “In the fight between you and the world, back the world,” with “In the fight between you and reality, be discouraging.” So yes, it’s a manifesto, but it isn’t a theoretical essay or piece; it’s there, in the book itself, in the opening paragraph of the book, as a theory in action. Underlying my novel is, although it isn’t expressed theoretically, an idea of literature focused on the insignificant, on the banal, on the mundane, the “not interesting,” the “not edifying,” on lulls in time, on marginal events, which are usually excluded from literature and are not dealt with in books.

Context - No. 22

How Was It for You?: On Cooperative Translation
Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman

Premises of a new Translation Pedagogy:
Changing the Paradigm of Cultural Studies
Elizabeth Lowe

The Making of John Ashbery and James Schuyler’s A Nest of Ninnies
John Ashbery

'Appy 'Ampstead
Color linocut
about 1933
Cyril Edward Power

Rhythms of Modern Life:
British Prints 1914–1939

Cyril Power: Linocuts

Cyril Power And The Joy Of Cutting

via Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading)


Clearing my throat - but to say - what? What was it you wanted to write? To achieve by writing? No matter. What's left: to mark the moment when you could begin, when you drew the day around you and made a space to begin. To begin - and then to end immediately. That's what the day permitted. That's what it took away.

December 12th. Five years ago (nearly five years ...) I began writing here. Five years ago to mark a threshold, the same one I'm marking here. Not to say anything. No communication. Except: it was possible to write. Except: I wanted to write and I wrote.

  -  Spurious, The Threshold


The 1844 Webster Dictionary
Zachary Sifuentes

Dickinson’s definitions encapsulate her slip knot desire to name, and by writing associative denotations of words, she somehow manages to both catch and release our lease on language.

Her judiciously read 1844 Noah Webster dictionary has been transmuted here to follow the path of her eye, revealing the suspended exaltation of even the flat expanse of article (“the), the lethargy of verbs (“to be”), and the graphic of non sequitur (“dash”). Five of her definitions have been cut out of the dictionary, and hung above their mildewed, though protected, dwelling.

Fugitive Sparrows
the art of Emily Dickinson
four part installation
Zachary Sifuentes

via Al Filreis


Spirit Is a Bone
Justin E. H. Smith

The Jews say spirit is a bone,
a solid part, as hard as stone.

Others think it’s like the gas
that glows and hovers o’er the grass
in graveyards hosting dead ancestors,
who go a-ghosting, when methane festers.


Or is it chyle, or pus, or some other juice?
Does it grow on a tree in a pod like a goose,
and drop off when the branch can not manage its weight?
Does the hour of dropping determine its fate?


Translating Bharat / India: Something Will Ring
bimonthly magazine about Indian literature


Creu I R
Antoni Tàpies
b. Dec. 13, 1923

224 images


The Naked Land
Kenneth Patchen
(Dec. 13, 1911 - Jan. 8, 1972)

A beast stands at my eye.

I cook my senses in a dark fire.
The old wombs rot and the new mother
Approaches with the footsteps of a world.

Who are the people of this unscaled heaven?
What beckons?
Whose blood hallows this grim land?
What slithers along the watershed of my human sleep?

The other side of knowing ...
Caress of unwaking delight ... O start
A sufficient love! O gently silent forms
Of the last spaces.

An Extended Visual Aria from Sleepers Awake

Excerpts from Sleepers Awake

More from Sleepers Awake
Chicago Review
1:2 Spring 1946

Sleeping Through The World's End
Patricia Eakins on Kenneth Patchen's Sleepers Awake

Patchen: Man Of Anger & Light
Henry Miller A Letter To God
Kenneth Patchen

Selected Poems
Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen — Poetry and Jazz days, 1957–1959
Larry Smith
excerpt from chapter fourteen of Kenneth Patchen: Rebel Poet in America

You can listen to a fine excerpt here

An Elegy on the Death of Kenneth Patchen
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Patchen at PoemHunter

Loren Webster on Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen, Naturalist of the Public Nightmare
Kenneth Rexroth


A Near Invisibility
Moyra Peralta

Nearly Invisible
Photographs by Moyra Peralta.
Writing by John Berger and Alan Bennett

Nearly Invisible
Moyra Peralta


Let us have madness openly.
0 men Of my generation.
Let us follow
The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
See it trail across Time's dim land
Into the closed house of eternity
With the noise that dying has,
With the face that dead things wear--
nor ever say
We wanted more; we looked to find
An open door, an utter deed of love,
Transforming day's evil darkness;
but We found extended hell and fog Upon the earth,
and within the head
A rotting bog of lean huge graves.

  - Kenneth Patchen


The Paranoid Style of Stephen Harper
James Laxer

There is though an oddly unnerving quality about Harper that is even a little spooky. That oddness, I believe, derives from the fact that Harper exhibits a paranoid political style.

By paranoid style, I mean, that Harper belongs to the resentful right, whose adherents understand the world in simplistic, binary terms, and depict those who disagree with them as the agents of endless conspiracies against the forces of righteousness. (A telling example of the paranoid style is the way Conservatives have taken to labeling the Liberal-NDP coalition as “un-Canadian”. This ludicrous term is lifted from “un-American”, an unsavory epithet that was much employed by McCarthyites during the 1950s who believed they had a corner on what it was to be American. Until the Harperites appeared, no politicians in Canada were so certain of their monopoly of virtue as to label their foes “un-Canadian.)


Painted and Silkscreened Poems
Kenneth Patchen


Senate Report Nails Rumsfeld, Sets Up War Crimes Trial

They may not have meant to do it, but the Senate Armed Services' Committee released a report by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain that gives us the best timeline to date on administration decisions to begin torturing detainees. The report, an Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody (pdf), also describes the means by which both the Pentagon and the CIA approached agencies within government, leading to the very top of the Bush Administration, and how the latter rushed in a series of presidential orders, and memos by the Office of Legal Counsel, to redefine torture law in order to provide legal cover for their blatant violation of the laws of war and those against torture.

Meet the GOP's wrecking crew
Why did a small group of Southern Republicans turn the auto bailout into a demolition derby? Introducing the senators who hate unions and love foreign cars.
Alex Koppelman and Mike Madden


"You'd better watch out, get ready to cry, You'd better go hide, I'm telling you why 'cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell. He is your favorite idol, you worship at his feet, but when you stand before your God He won't help you take the heat. So get this fact straight: you're feeling God's hate, Santa's to blame for the economy's fate, Santa Claus will take you to hell."
  -  Westboro Baptist Church

Plimpton MS 298

Perugia Scribe

Antonio Schiratti
1600 and 1615
Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Jim Harrison
b. December 11, 1937

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

Jim Harrison interview
The poet laureate of appetite talks about the saving power of animals, Charles Frazier's prose style and the tyranny of sexual correctness.
I grew up rural, around animals. I had my eye put out when I was a kid and ran to the woods, and I'm not totally sure I've emerged. [Laughs] This strange Hasidic scholar I know named Neal Claremont, a brilliant young man, said to me one day: "Don't you really think that reality is the accretion of the perceptions of all creatures?" I said, Jesus Christ, that's a monster statement. But of course it's true, and what a marvelous thing to say. I don't think I'm any more important than a dog or a cat. It's become alien to my nature -- that sort of self-importance that is so egregious in this fucking pop stand. I could do my imitation of an important novelist entering Elaine's, but why? There's no bigger trip than self-importance -- to blind you, to decrease the energy of your art. So the animals come in there -- whether horses, dogs, cats, bears, birds -- to help keep you ordinary.(....)

Before I went to Paris I did an old traditional ritual. I went up to my cabin and vomited up the world for five days. No contact with newspapers, radio, nothing but running my dog. I think even Jesus said you have to step aside in the wilderness and rest awhile, an interesting view. You have to avoid suffocating in lint. We're not choo-choo trains on a track. Nothing tells us we can't swim across a lake and climb a tree. We're human beings. Some of us are still Pleistocene bipeds, no matter that we like James Joyce and Heidegger. It's that idea that Nelse [a character in "The Road Home"] talks about, and Shakespeare said it first: We're nature, too.

The Boy Who Ran to the Woods
Jim Harrison

The Beast God Forgot to Invent
Jim Harrison

The Summer He Didn't Die
Jim Harrison

Conversations with Jim Harrison
edited by Robert J. DeMott

Robert Birnbaum talks to Jim Harrison


Mike Chisholm

Mike blogs at
Idiotic Hat

via Twiglog


"The Climate of History: Four Theses"
Dipesh Chakrabarty

pdf download

There is much in the debate on climate change that should be of interest to those involved in contemporary discussions about history. For as the idea gains ground that the grave environmental risks of global warming have to do with excessive accumulation in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases produced mainly through the burning of fossil fuel and the industrialized use of animal stock by human beings, certain scientific propositions have come into circulation in the public domain that have profound, even transformative, implications for how we think about human history or about what the historian C. A. Bayly recently called “the birth of the modern world.”2 Indeed, what scientists have said about climate change challenges not only the ideas about the human that usually sustain the discipline of history but also the analytic strategies that postcolonial and postimperial historians have deployed in the last two decades in response to the postwar scenario of decolonization and globalization.

In what follows, I present some responses to the contemporary crisis from a historian’s point of view.


Between Clock and Bed
Self Portrait
Edvard Munch
b. 12 December 1863


Thomas Bernhard's Report
Edmond Caldwell

Bernhard narrates like Nietzsche philosophized – with a hammer. And the goal is in some ways similar, the smashing of metaphysical idols. Certainly Bernhard’s report is a species of defamiliarization, but even this assertion must be qualified. The conventional take on defamiliarizing devices is that they are meant to break readers out of habitual or conventionalized modes of thought and perception, in the service of “new” or “refreshed” perception. In other words, there is still the rehearsal of a moment of transcendence. But Bernhard’s report awakens the reader only to sameness, utter repetition, bad infinity, just as his books don’t end so much as simply stop. There’s no “new.” I don’t wish to traffic in paradoxes for their own sake, but there’s something about this particular Bernhardian device that defamiliarizes defamiliarization itself, that estranges estrangement.

Edvard Munch


Capitalist Fools
Joseph E. Stiglitz
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, “I have found a flaw.” Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working.” “Absolutely, precisely,” Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

Tragedy, Farce
Jasper Bernes

... Schwarzenegger is the perfect front-man for his good (and goodly dead) friend Milton Friedman's ideology. As Naomi Klein makes clear in The Shock Doctrine, neoliberal restructuring has always depended upon the manipulation (and outright creation) of crisis conditions, has always depended upon the melodrama and hysteria of the disaster movie. This is not to say that conditions are not dire, nor is it to say that the new economy which will emerge from this crisis is likely to follow the lines of neoliberalisms past. Only that we are, indeed, under the spell of a disaster politics, and we should be mindful of the messages borne aloft by the waves of affect now pouring from our television sets.

Old Trees
Edvard Munch
c. 1923-25


    Press Panic Sweeps the Nation
How to turn a legal, logical, 'leftish' coalition into a hysterical 'crisis.'
Donald Gutstein


A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture
Volume Two (2008): Process

Felix Nussbaum
11 December 1904 – 2 August 1944

1 2 3

Felix Nussbaum and the Art of Resistance
John Felstiner


I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –
  -  Emily Dickinson

The Refugee
Felix Nussbaum


The Dictatorship of No Alternatives

Daniel Aldana Cohen reviews

Free Trade Reimagined:
The World Division of Labor and the Method of Economics

Roberto Mangabeiram Unger

Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
Ha-Joon Chang

How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor
Erik S. Reinert


The Narrative Act:
Wittgenstein And Narratology
Henry McDonald


This essay uses the late work of Ludwig Wittgenstein to reformulate the traditional distinction between story and narrative discourse, or diegetic and extra-diegetic levels of narrative, as a distinction between story and narrative act. In describing the transformations performed by the narrative act, the author elaborates the principle of narrative uncertainty, which dictates that the more definite the account of story or plot, the more indefinite the account of the narrative act -- and vice versa. In this conceptual framework, the essay then characterizes the narrative act as the differential, within a given fictional text, of two of more types of stories (or plots), and articulates the relationship between narrative act, narrator, and cultural context.

Image [&] Narrative
a peer-reviewed e-journal on visual narratology

Time and Photography
lectures presented at the International Conference: Time and Photography hosted by the sister universities of Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve on 13-15 March 2008

The Photographic Device as a Waiting Machine
Mauricio Lissovsky

He who waits – the modern photographer that Benjamin had foreseen, but never named – welcomes time and takes it in, yet starting from the moment in which he waits ex-pects. The time then restored no longer passes, no longer flows, but grows denser and reflows towards the present. In a juvenile text, Benjamin defined historical time as “infinite in every direction and unfulfilled at every moment”. This doesn’t make time a “pure form”, a homogeneous empty flow that an event fills, but something that this event could redeem – the messianic interruption in the succession of time. This is the difference between Heidegger’s “delay” and Benjamin’s “wait”. Delay is the place where an “authentic” subject is constituted in the here and now towards which the past and the future flow together. The “wait”, in its turn, is also the place where one may salvage, in the present time, made dense by expectations, certain immunity for the future.

We live in an era in which the future has hurled itself onto the present: instantaneity has become universal in the shape of the “live” and the “real-time” and the distinctions between the past and the future have become imperceptible. Only now, contemporarily, the photographic wait may be understood by what it has represented for modernity: an ethics of the instant, whose mission was to safeguard the future and, within this future, make it possible for an event to take place, a nearby moment different from the one that we are currently living. The “wait” is a reserve of novelty within a time that insists on passing off as homogeneous – the time of random instants, of the equivalent ones. The ethical dimension of the expectation of the instant was – and might still be – producing the future as a reserve of differences, and, by the same movement, restoring to time its power of interruption.

Felix Nussbaum


Zooming through Space
Chris Fujiwara

... the opportunism with which the zoom greets reality is also a subjection, a submission. In zooming, the filmmaker con-fesses a powerlessness to intervene other than optically in an event whose flux s/he is doomed merely to follow. The filmmaker always lags behind the event: The zoom compensates for this delay, but it also registers it.

Digital Curation
Richard J. Cox reports on the 4th International Digital Curation Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on December 2-3, 2008

Walter McClintock Glass Lantern Slides

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library:
Digital Images & Collections Online


White Christmas
Angelo Cannavacciuolo
Translated from the Italian by Jamie Richards

The schoolteacher Antonio Castrese, leaning against the windowpane, concluded that this was no longer a separate world. There was no doubt about it. From then on, he would consider it his own, since everything that his eyes fell upon was becoming dear to him. And nothing would dissuade him any longer. Not the dim avenues with their sparse streetlamps reflecting on the wet pavement, nor the shabby Christmas lights, which he had always loathed, nor the hordes of beachgoers, who took the coast by storm in summer, not to mention the misdeeds of all the people as they dealt with their lives from morning to night. He would even turn a blind eye to the gunshots that left a body on the asphalt every so often. Sipping from the glass he was holding tightly, he told himself that this swarm of souls in torment was still better than the rundown neighborhood in Naples where he had been watching time die for fifty-some years. In this place, everything made him feel at home, down to the young Africans in the street, who were cackling and chatting noisily despite the cold and the late hour. He even smiled at one of them. Another, who was wearing a red beret that drooped over his ears, seemed to glance his way, furtively.

From the third floor of the condominium, looking out over the landscape disfigured by man, he kept smiling. And everything pleased him. Even the gigantic Christmas tree in the deserted intersection, the balconies and windows with strings of lights peeking through the haze, down there, in the distance. Yes, he smiled softly, even he, who had always promised himself he would leave at the hanging of the first lights and return when every trace of Christmas was gone.

Girl with Parrot and Doll
ca. 1865
America and the Tintype

via gmtPlus9 (-15)


From: The empire of walls (cantos and stories)
Ahmed Taha
translated by Maged Zaher

Because you are crowded behind my mirror:
one face    that is shooting — calmly — it looks
like assassins shooting their bullets:   

The bullet jumps:
            one street after another
            one year after another
on some night, it will penetrate the head
on another night, it will penetrate the heart
and on a third night, it will penetrate the genitals

This is why
I have to rest now
I have to build a wall after a wall
and kneel
behind my kingdom
as if I were the last emperor

Three Egyptian Poets
edited by Maged Zaher

In the Arab world a continuous gap between the spoken and written languages exists. The written language is formal while the spoken is not. An example of this would be — for an English language speaker — to use the standard everyday English language for speaking, yet old Shakespearian English for writing.

Political speeches are always rendered in the formal language. They depend — at large — on the same rhetorical devices of hyperbole and exaggeration used in classical Arabic poetry. Most poetry is written in the formal language. The nineties generation poets still used formal language but they somewhat modified their diction to match journalistic and everyday speech.

Breaking with the existing rhetoric is considered a sort of a heresy and challenge to the culturally — romantic/patriarchal/religious — accepted language, hence the major cultural tension that surrounds this form of poetry. The aesthetic debate was often peppered by accusations of the poets who broke with the tradition as agents of imperialism or communism.

The three poets chosen for translation here are emblematic of the thematic and linguistic changes that I have mentioned in my introduction.

Main street in rural town
June 1978 - July 1979
Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas at Magnum

Susan Meiselas with Phong Bui

We should all revisit the notion of the “concerned,” historically. And then the question is: is this, in some ways, a response to finding a way to be concerned about being a concerned photographer? In other words, I don’t want to relinquish the role and the necessity of witnessing and the photographic act as a response, a responsible response. But I also don’t want to assume in a kind of naïve way, precisely as you’re saying, that the act of the making of the image is enough. What’s enough? And what can we know in this process of making, publishing, reproducing, exposing, and recontextualizing work in book or exhibition form? And especially now with my being on view, I can only hope that it registers a number of questions. First of all, what did really happen to the Kurds 20 years ago, and why didn’t we know about it—and how do we process it individually? Does it move people towards consciousness or action, even though it certainly didn’t stop the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988? What do I think when people’s awareness—my images—were made after the campaign was essentially over? Should I not have made them, as a register of history, for the following generations, to make sense of and understand themselves?

Politics Of Information And The Fate Of The Earth
Theodore Roszak

As a writer and teacher, I value information as much as the next person. Unless, that is, the next person is a computer hacker, a Cognitive Scientist, an Artificial Intelligence expert, or an advertising executive in charge of the IBM or Apple account. Then I begin to feel as if I've strayed into a strange cult where all about me I find people worshipping light bulbs. No question but that light bulbs are useful devices. I wouldn't want to live without them. But I never would have thought of them as objects of veneration.

Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism. The techniques have been honed to a high art in the U.S. and elsewhere, far beyond anything that Orwell dreamed of. The device of feigned dissent (as practiced by the Vietnam- era "doves," who criticized the war on the grounds of effectiveness and not principle) is one of the more subtle means, though simple lying and suppressing fact and other crude techniques are also highly effective.

For those who stubbornly seek freedom around the world, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the propaganda system to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as unwilling or unwitting instruments.
  -  Noam Chomsky, Propaganda, American-style

Marianne Moore
[1929] Picturing Literary Modernism


Temporary Residence
Andrew Taylor
The Loft Space Poetics

a pen is home
a field is home
a hedge is home
the common human who wandered this rock alone in search of love and in search of home but in lieu of love, in lieu of home would accept a kind word or a hot cup of coffee, a cadged cigarette or they would perhaps finally find a serene consolation in simply being alone – Ric Williams at Albert Huffstickler's Memorial Service

Technical notes:
Within a week the cubby hole
has been re-papered

the lean-to has had its
corrugated iron roof replaced

on the floor of the front room
there are paintings drying
on the fireplace two
of the 'Chaos Paintings' stand

storage container box
cargo ark pipe crate
space volume height
width depth
mass lost meandering
belongings rubbish
heirloom archive
fill overwhelm
stack repeat build
spread freight boxes
heap property stuff


Walter McClintock


There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons--
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes--

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us--
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are--

None may teach it--Any--
'Tis the Seal Despair--
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air--

When it comes, the Landscape listens--
Shadows--hold their breath--
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death--

  - Emily Dickinson
    b. Dec. 10, 1830

interior of balloon filling
Félix Nadar
(Gaspard Félix Tournachon)

1 2

CATSCAN 12: "Return to the Rue Jules Verne"
Bruce Sterling on Félix Nadar

Nadar and Verne were contemporaries, both of them emigres to Paris with artistic ambitions, a taste for hard work, and a pronounced Bohemian bent. Nadar and Verne further shared an intense interest in geography, mapping, and aviation. Verne's influence on Nadar was slim, but Nadar impressed Verne mightily. Nadar even featured as the hero of one of Verne's best-known novels, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, as the thinly anagrammed "Michael Ardan."

Thanks to the efforts of my good friend Richard Dorsett (a rare book dealer by trade) I have come into possession of a book called simply NADAR, a collection of 359 of Monsieur Tournachon's pioneering nineteenth-century photographs, assembled in 1976 by Nigel Gosling for Alfred A Knopf. I knew that Nadar had been a photographer, among his other pursuits as an aeronaut, journalist, caricaturist, author, man-about-Paris, and sometime inspiration for a prototypical science-fiction writer. But I never realized that Nadar was this good!


“Beyond This Universe of Countless Words”
Dale Smith reviews The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen

Presenting some of the most significant poetry of the postwar era, The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen should boost Whalen’s cultural status to the level of recognition he deserves, for it reveals an acute introspective power unequaled in the writing of the period. As a modernist in the tradition of Pound, Williams, and Stein, Whalen undertook new directions in poetry, and deserves to be read within a larger context of postwar American letters. His reception of modernism, along with influences from prolonged studies in eastern religions, allowed him to develop a unique, collage-generated serial form that inspected the phenomenological variety of the everyday as it came into contact with the epistemic reach of the individual self.

On Being With Others
Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Derrida
Sim Glendinning
mediafire download

via Fark Yaralari = Scars of Différance


God's Bailout

Detroit Churches Pray for ‘God’s Bailout’

Praying For A Miracle S.U.V.’s sat on the altar of Greater Grace Temple, a Pentecostal church in Detroit, as congregants prayed to save the auto industry.

Poetry International Web
The December Issue (2008)


1000 words photography
winter 2008


Subterranean Paris
Félix Nadar


In the forest of paradoxes
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
Translated by Alison Anderson

"How is it possible on the one hand, for example, to behave as if nothing on earth were more important than literature, and on the other fail to see that wherever one looks, people are struggling against hunger and will necessarily consider that the most important thing is what they earn at the end of the month? Because this is where he (the writer) is confronted with a new paradox: while all he wanted was to write for those who are hungry, he now discovers that it is only those who have plenty to eat who have the leisure to take notice of his existence."
  - Stig Dagerman, The Writer and Consciousness
This "forest of paradoxes", as Stig Dagerman calls it, is, precisely, the realm of writing, the place from which the artist must not attempt to escape: on the contrary, he or she must "camp out" there in order to examine every detail, explore every path, name every tree. It is not always a pleasant stay. He thought he had found shelter, she was confiding in her page as if it were a close, indulgent friend; but now these writers are confronted with reality, not merely as observers, but as actors. They must choose sides, establish their distance.(....)

Something simple, and true, which exists in language alone. A charm, sometimes a ruse, a grating dance, or long spells of silence. The language of mockery, of interjections, of curses, and then, immediately afterwards, the language of paradise.(....)

For all his pessimism, Stig Dagerman's phrase about the fundamental paradox of the writer, unsatisfied because he cannot communicate with those who are hungry—whether for nourishment or for knowledge—touches on the greatest truth. Literacy and the struggle against hunger are connected, closely interdependent. One cannot succeed without the other. Both of them require, indeed urge, us to act. So that in this third millennium, which has only just begun, no child on our shared planet, regardless of gender or language or religion, shall be abandoned to hunger or ignorance, or turned away from the feast. This child carries within him the future of our human race. In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, a very long time ago, the kingdom belongs to a child.


Pierrot the photographer
(Adrien Tournachon)
Félix Nadar


Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law
a 47-minute film by Michael Geist

While this is hardly the first film about copyright, the release was noteworthy since it occurred exclusively online and in the process highlighted the potential for independent creators to use the power of Internet distribution to level the cultural playing field.

Finding ways to distribute films may have once posed a significant barrier, but that is clearly no longer the case. Why Copyright? was posted to online video sites such as YouTube and Blip.tv, which offer free streaming distribution. Another version was posted to Dot-Sub, a video-streaming site that enables viewers to create subtitles in other languages. Further versions were made available via BitTorrent, allowing people to download the entire DVD of the film.

Within days, thousands of people had viewed the film at virtually no cost.

My experience is not unique as the Internet is now filled with examples of filmmakers bypassing the conventional theatre and DVD distribution systems.
  - Michael Geist

The Casting of the Spell
Wifredo Lam
Dec. 8, 1902 - Sept. 11, 1982

177 images here


You, my photographer, you, most aware,
Who climbed to the bridge when the iceberg struck,
Climbed with your camera when the ship's hull broke,
And lighted your flashes and, standing passionate there,
Wound the camera in the sudden burst's flare,
Shot the screaming women, and turned and took
Pictures of the iceberg (as the ship's deck shook)
Dreaming like the moon in the night's black air!

You, tiptoe on the rail to film a child!
The nude old woman swimming in the sea
Looked up from the dark water to watch you there;
Below, near the ballroom where the band still toiled,
The frightened, in their lifebelts, watched you bitterly -
You hypocrite! My brother! We are a pair!

  - Delmore Schwartz

Delmore Schwartz
Dec. 8, 1913 - July 11, 1966


In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories
Delmore Schwartz

The Ego is Always at the Wheel: Bagatelles
Delmore Schwartz
edited by Robert Phillips

Last & Lost Poems
Delmore Schwartz
edited by Robert S. Phillips

America, America!
Delmore Schwartz

I am a poet of the Hudson River and the heights above it,
            the lights, the stars, and the bridges
I am also by self-appointment the laureate of the Atlantic
            -of the peoples' hearts, crossing it 
                         to new America.

I am burdened with the truck and chimera, hope,
            acquired in the sweating sick-excited passage 
                         in steerage, strange and estranged
Hence I must descry and describe the kingdom of emotion.

For I am a poet of the kindergarten (in the city)
            and the cemetery (in the city)
And rapture and ragtime and also the secret city in the
  heart and mind
This is the song of the natural city self in the 20th century.

It is true but only partly true that a city is a "tyranny of
(This is the chant of the urban metropolitan and
  metaphysical self
After the first two World Wars of the 20th century)

--- This is the city self, looking from window to lighted
When the squares and checks of faintly yellow light
Shine at night, upon a huge dim board and slab-like tombs,
Hiding many lives. It is the city consciousness
Which sees and says: more: more and more: always more.


Factory in North London
Lucian Freud
b. Dec. 8 1922


Why Save Capitalism?
Stephen Mo Hanan

Moralists of the Right, when not actually endorsing greed, will insist that it's inherent in human nature, a kind of original sin we're stuck with, like cruelty, violence and the need to snipe at those we disapprove of. The belief that people are essentially flawed is fundamental to the outlook of the Right. It's the root of authoritarianism; if from birth we are, as a species, up to no good, we need to be given rules and obey them. (The possibility that the rulegivers are equally flawed doesn't trouble the Right. Many among them think God made the rules, the U.S. Constitution included.)

To hold this pessimistic view of human nature is a sure sign of a broken heart ...


Leonard Freed


Republicans keep trying to foist the decayed body of Hoover's economic policies onto the nation like a zombie that's already feasted on all the Republican brains it can find and now needs more sustenance to survive. Republicans shouldn't have resurrected it in the first place, and they only have themselves to blame that the Hoover Zombie has consumed what little mental matter they had left. The rest of us need to denounce what they are doing and prevent others from succumbing to the temptation of letting it nibble on their lobes, even for a little bit.
  -  Austin Cline

frank rich’s problem and ours
ads without products
responds to Frank Rich's The Brightest Are Not Always the Best

... the problem with Rich’s work - now and throughout the decade - is that as brave as he is in naming what is hiding in plain sight, he systematically refuses to lay blame where blame is due. In this case, neoliberal economics - the self-suspending rope ladder of financialization. We are to blame Rubin and Summers personally, just his earlier columns urged us to blame Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice personally. Rich has all the makings of a brilliant social analyst, a wide-angle reader of the American situation. But when he brings right to the heart of the darkness that he describes, we find not systems and ideas but always a soul in crisis, a man on the verge of sin or deep in sin and trying to scrabble his way out of it. We “blame Bush” - and, as is clear even from Rich’s column today, it is becoming ever more clear that the removal of the stumbling villain from the stage might not be the cathartic crisis point that augurs the end of the horrible piece we’ve been watching.

An argument
Leonard Freed
1929 - 2006

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Hilary Putnam on Respectful Contempt
an excerpt from Reason, Truth and History
courtesy of Keith Burgess-Jackson

This is a painful thing to explore, and politeness normally keeps us from examining with any justice what exactly our attitudes are towards those whom we love and disagree with. The fact is that none of us who is at all grown up likes and respects everything about anyone (least of all one's own self). There is no contradiction between having a fundamental liking and respect for someone and still regarding something in him as an intellectual and moral weakness, just as there is no contradiction between having a fundamental liking and respect for oneself and regarding something in oneself as an intellectual and moral (or emotional, etc.) weakness.

I want to urge that there is all the difference in the world between an opponent who has the fundamental intellectual virtues of open-mindedness, respect for reason, and self-criticism, and one who does not; between an opponent who has an impressive and pertinent store of factual knowledge, and one who does not; between an opponent who merely gives vent to his feelings and fantasies (which is all people commonly do in what passes for political discussion), and one who reasons carefully. And the ambivalent attitude of respectful contempt is an honest one: respect for the intellectual virtues in the other; contempt for the intellectual or emotional weaknesses (according to one's own lights, of course, for one always starts with them). 'Respectful contempt' may sound almost nasty (especially if one confuses it with contemptuous respect, which is something quite different). And it would be nasty if the 'contempt' were for the other as a person, and not just for one complex of feelings and judgments in him. But it is a far more honest attitude than false relativism; that is, the pretense that there is no giving reasons, or such a thing as better or worse reasons on a subject, when one really does feel that one view is reasonable and the other is irrational.


Wifredo Lam


And then god said, "Let there ... oh, you already have life"
David Horton

It has been a failure of all us atheistical Darwinists intent on dragging the world, kicking and screaming, into the 1860s, and out of the clutches of the religion-be-deviled proudly ignorant dark-age-living creationists. A failure of nerve or conviction perhaps, a kind of naive apolitical strictly scientific honest-to-a-fault response to people who have been made brain dead by one of the most ruthless and dishonest brain-washing operations ever seen.

You will all be familiar with the sequence, indeed it is the kind of ritualised blog ballet that has developed over a whole range of questions in the last few years (climate change and Iraq being just two of the other most obvious). One of us who regularly writes about evolution will mention some new fossil discovery, or explain a particular aspect of evolution, or a new hypothesis about some evolutionary mechanism, or some outrage about teaching children creationism instead of science, or will simply pour scorn on some ignorant man with staring eyes and odd sexual tastes who loves guns and war and hates gays and who is ranting that the problem with the world today is Darwinism.(....)

... no more Mr Nice Biologist - natural selection doesn't just help life evolve, it creates life in the first place. Not to insist on that, at every possible opportunity, would have been like Killer Kowalski letting his opponents up from the mat, dusting them down, and giving them a free shot at him. Life evolved on this planet by a mechanism that is simply a tautology, and the planet having burst into life, its subsequent history was a matter of carefully refining its characteristics by that same tautology, and multiplying its forms by geographic separation. There is no mystery here, no outstretched finger breathing life, nothing to puzzle over except the minor details of when and where and precisely how the chemicals changed from inorganic chemistry to organic chemistry. Life evolved. In both senses of that term.


Three windows
Marco Bianchetti



In The Naked Bed, In Plato's Cave
Delmore Schwartz

In the naked bed, in Plato's cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram
        Slid slowly forth.

Hearing the milkman's clop,
his striving up the stair, the bottle's chink,
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window. The stony street
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,
The street-lamp's vigil and the horse's patience.
The winter sky's pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.

Strangeness grew in the motionless air. The loose
Film grayed. Shaking wagons, hooves' waterfalls,
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.
A car coughed, starting. Morning softly
Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,
Bubbled and whistled, so! Perplexed, still wet
With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold. So, so,
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail
Of early morning, the mystery of the beginning
Again and again,
        while history is unforgiven.

Marco Bianchetti

Szilas Creek
Kudász Gábor

via tasting rhubarb


Matter and Memory
Henri Bergson
Trans. Maragret Nancy Paul and W. Scott Palmer.

Of The Selection Of Images For Conscious Presentation. What Our Body Means And Does.

WE will assume for the moment that we know nothing of theories of matter and theories of spirit, nothing of the discussions as to the reality or ideality of the external world. Here I am ir the presence of images, in the vaguest sense of the word, images perceived when my senses are opened to them, unperceived when they are closed. All these images act and react upon one another in all their elementary parts according to constant laws which I call laws of nature, and, as a perfect knowledge of these laws would probably allow us to calculate and to fore see what will happen in each of these images, the future of the images must be contained in their present and will add to them nothing new. Yet there is one of them which is distinct from all the others, in that I do not know it only from without by perceptions, but from within place and by affections : it is my body.


Clifford Duffy

Prorogue Non(e)n!

-----------------------the only time to govern
is in th eE
questions of bad faith are not really the issue
the issue is one of the moment

let the marshalling forces of the multiple come forth

indeed gracing to become


Ten reasons why proroguing Parliament is Harper's worst business idea yet
Alice Klein


With Parliament in Limbo:
Stephen Harper has become Canada’s Lord Protector
James Laxer

Prorogation is the latest move in the desperate campaign of the Conservative government to avoid defeat in the House of Commons at the hands of the majority of its members. We now enter an unprecedented period in Canadian history. A prime minister who has lost the confidence of the House, the sine qua non for governing in our system, is continuing in office.

Unwilling to govern as prime ministers have in the past, Stephen Harper has transformed himself into the country’s self-anointed Lord Protector. The original Lord Protector was Oliver Cromwell who did away with a Parliament he feared in 1653 and then ruled on his own.

Stephen Harper, for the next seven weeks, will be governing without the parliament that has been elected by the people.(....)

The Lord Protector has his scapegoat. That scapegoat is Quebec.

Those who would restore our system of government, the tranquility of the relations between the Quebecois and the rest of the country, and who would install a government to lead the country through the economic crisis need to act publicly and insistently.

The battle has been joined.


Red Wings Demand End to NHL Season

"The Detroit Red Wings already have the Stanley Cup," said Illitch, "and we see no reason to continue to play hockey with the other 29 teams in the league just so that they can keep trying to take it away from us."

Take, for example, the current coalition agreement that has been set up by the Libs and NDP and the tacit support of the Bloc. I don’t like it, but there is nothing remotely unconstitutional about it. It is thoroughly legitimate.

Canadians did not vote for Stephane Dion, no. But we did not vote for Stephen Harper either. We elected a parliament, which will support who it will support. Under our constitution, neither the people nor the prime minister even exist, there is only parliament.

It is bad enough that most of the complainers out there don’t get it. Stephen Harper knows better, and chooses to pretend otherwise.
  - Terry Glavin


Welcome to the Harper Dictatorship


Harpers Putsch
Eugene Plawiuk

Since winning power in 2006, albeit as a minority government, Stephen Harper has been set on gaining a majority to keep HIM in power as PM. That first summer his reading included a biography of Stalin, the Man of Steel.

And like Stalin his recent political machinations reminded me of the intriques in the Bolshevik Party as Stalin played off alliances of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, Bukharin, and other central committee and politburo members, against each other to maintain power.

In porouging parliment he saved his job and his government...for the moment.

And despite his protestations about saving demoracy, his actions are the opposite. Which is typical of the right wing, who use language to mean its opposite. For instance Freedom of Information acts passed by right wing governments are anything but that, they actually limit freedom of informantion and access. Just as the Harperocrites transperancy and accountability act is anything but.

And right wing parties manufacture political crisises in order to create the conditions to either take power or stay in power.

So when Harper talks about democracy he means something other than parlimentary democracy. Rather he looks south and want to create a PMO with the power of the U.S. Presidency.(....)

... let us recap the Harper government is a minority, the majority of Canadians voted for the opposition. They don't want another election, only Harper does because he has the money to run one. He wants an election not to govern but to finally kill the Liberal party, to run a stake thrrough its heart so it will not rise again.

And that is all his political agenda was ever about. So lets not hear anymore about defending democracy, or being best suited to solve the economic crisis, which he denied we were in and still has not offered any solutions for.Or that he is fighting for Canadian unity against nasty seperatists that he was willing to join with to defeat the Liberal minority government of Paul Martin.

Let us understand that Harper and his cronies seek power for its own sake, to mold Canada in their neo-con image. He has pulled off a parlimentary putsch to stay in power. We need a strong coalition to defeat him and replace him in January.


The Globe and Mail, to take one example, will plead that even if Harper will not resign, he could be purged of his sins by walking barefoot to Canossa. I don’t buy it. This Holy Roman Emperor is not redeemable.
Canada’s Choice: the Liberal-NDP Coalition or One Man Rule
James Laxer
Stephen Harper’s response to the economic crisis was an almost incomprehensible failure to act, and when this cost him the loss of the confidence of the majority of MPs, he turned to scapegoating the Quebecois, and he has now hijacked the federal government.

The response of all shades of Quebec opinion to Harper’s onslaught against the legitimacy of the province’s MPs makes clear that the Conservative leader is in the process of provoking a national unity crisis for which he alone will be responsible.

There is only one possible road ahead to restore political sanity and parliamentary rule to the country so that Ottawa can deal effectively with the economic malaise---the formation of a Liberal-NDP coalition government. The alternative is the one-man rule of Stephen Harper. In the absence of a move by moderate Conservatives to force Harper to resign as their party leader, there will be no middle ground.


Fanning the fires of national disunity
Ed Broadbent

Since first being elected to the House of Commons in 1968, at a time of great national unity, I have never witnessed a Canadian prime minister consciously decide to disunite the nation. Until now.(....)

...for the first time in our history, we have a prime minister prepared to set a fire that we may not be able to put out, for the paltry purpose of saving himself from a confidence vote on Monday. In almost every sentence, paragraph and page coming from Mr. Harper, his ministers and Conservative MPs, we're getting distortions intended to delegitimize a democratically formed coalition, proposed in accordance with normal parliamentary practices, between the Liberals and the NDP.(....)

Consider the following falsehoods that he, his ministers and their party are spreading:

1. The Bloc is part of the Liberal-NDP coalition. It's not. But it is providing needed stability by signing an agreement not to bring down the coalition during its first 18 months. Mr. Harper has relied on the Bloc 14 times in votes, and twice on budget ones.

2. The Bloc was promised six Senate seats. The Bloc, of course, is opposed to the Senate. No such offer exists.

3. According to Mr. Harper, the Canadian flag did not appear behind Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe during their press conference. This is false. The flag was visibly there.

4. The Bloc would have a veto on all the actions of the coalition government. False. The Bloc did not ask for, and was not given, such a veto. In fact, its agreement not to bring down the coalition means the opposite is true.

5. Mr. Harper and his supporters are calling all "sovereigntists" in Quebec "separatists." Although a great number of Quebeckers would call themselves "sovereigntists," a large majority of them are certainly not separatists.


Paint Flakes and Snow Flakes
Mustard Gas Party
Photographic essays


On diffused complicity
Joe Palmer

There is a general malaise in the United States. The bread and circuses no longer satisfy. We are marking time, waiting for the Bush years to be over. Anything would be better than this legal theft, incompetent expertise, business embezzlement, potlatch politics, and sanctimonious hypocrisy. There is plenty of everything for everybody, but it is a free-for-all, a dog-eat-dog affair, with the powerless sucking on the hind teat. Everyone on the fringes, the kids, the minorities, and the old folks, might as well be in the jungle trying to survive on swamp water and rotten fruit.(....)

In the words of Simone Weil, we are like the good thief crucified alongside Jesus, for no matter how great our affliction, we deserve it. We have been "an accomplice, through cowardice, inertia, indifference, or culpable ignorance, in crimes which have plunged other human beings into an affliction as least as great." Maybe we could not have prevented the chaos of Iraq or the misery of the American underclass, but we could have protested the greed, cupidity, and avarice that perpetuate them, but no, we allowed the mafia MBAs, the criminal masters of business administration, the technocrats, to give and to take away for the benefit of the super-rich, running the American democracy into the ground.

We could at least protest because "among our institutions and customs there are things so atrocious that no one can legitimately feel himself innocent of this diffused complicity... the guilt of criminal indifference. [Weil, in "The Love of God and Affliction, " in Science, Necessity, and the Love of God, London 1968]
When someone gets rich, someone else gets poor, and we burn up the earth.

Why? (1913)

Visualizing Ideology
Labor vs. Capital in the Age of Silent Films


Cognitive Capitalism And The Rat Race
How Capital Measures Ideas And Affects In Uk Higher Education
Massimo De Angelis And David Harvie

Archive Of Papers
Immaterial Labour, Multitudes And New Social Subjects: Class Composition In Cognitive Capitalism
via infinite thØught


the missing girls
Barbara Mor
the Method
All is Object .of a cruel desert,a cruel god, predators eye
or job boss, any scent of flesh or automata(seeking like a
child to live beyond this)their residue scattered shoes socks
tshirts backpacks among rib femur skull in sparse lots or
retrieved into bldgs industry forensic charity used parts
on categories of shelves (dissected information)
       Alma,age 13,Irma 12,
anonima 8       mothers give names in love,these objects
return value as product,crime list,sensations of news,the
scent of a desert thicker than blood


Ken Knabb,
the Situationist International,
and the American Counterculture

Jean-Pierre Depétris
Translated December 2008 by Ken Knabb in collaboration with the author.


Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism
Bernard-Henry Lévy
Review by Robert Philbin

Can a French philosopher's reflection on his intellectual journey shed any light on American dilemmas...

Katrín Elvarsdóttir

via The Exposure Project


Tucker's People
Ira Wolfert

Alan Filreis

"Tucker's People remains one of the most distinguished American novels of the whole forties." So wrote Walter Rideout in The Radical Novel in the United States (1956). His assessment not only commends Ira Wolfert's achievement but also complexly places this 1943 novel, and indeed the question of its literary value, in the context of a period - as a "forties novel," which is perhaps distinctr from a "thirties novel." Sluch placement goes against the grainof most conventional as well as some otherwise outstanding "revisionist" scholarship focusing on the radical novel - such as that of Paula Rabinowitz and Barbara Foley - because it implies that the 1940s was a major moment in the development of the genre.

The City
Constantine P. Cavafy
translated by George Barbanis

You said, "I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.
Another city will be found, better than this.
Every effort of mine is condemned by fate;
and my heart is -- like a corpse -- buried.
How long in this wasteland will my mind remain.
Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look
I see the black ruins of my life here,
where I spent so many years, and ruined and wasted."

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
in these same houses you will grow gray.
Always you will arrive in this city. To another land -- do not hope --
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you have ruined your life here
in this little corner, you have destroyed it in the whole world.
Cavafy poems
translated by George Barbanis

Josef Sudek
1896 - 1976


The windows
Constantine P. Cavafy
translated by George Barbanis

In these darkened rooms, where I spend
oppresive days, I pace to and fro
to find the windows. -- When a window
opens, it will be a consolation. --
But the windows cannot be found, or I cannot
find them. And maybe it is best that I do not find them.
Maybe the light will be a new tyranny.
Who knows what new things it will reveal.

"Come buy," call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

  -  Goblin Market
     Christina Rossetti
     Dec 5, 1830 - Dec 29, 1894

Johann Fournier


Winter Notes, East End
Michael Heller

        to AS, in memorium

Finding the nothing full, I bring myself back
to the day's page, the window's revealing expanse

of snow, bardos tamped down upon bardos ("it is not
possible to contract for a stay"), brittle leaves

which sign but do not speak, the frost, the graveyard
across the road leaking its supply of portents, jargons

of elegies, white words without issue, the swan
on thin ice, images which imbue, only to lend perfume
to the acrid taste of being countried outside a soul.


At midnight, Orion and the Dog Star swell in blackness.
And on clouded nights, no constellation and no consolation.

Intelligence unable to code another winter night which, like
a tunnel, leads back to a helplessness only a child should feel.


At the window, January's sparse glories:
ice crystals adhering to rocks,

also winter birds that never quite
belong in snow-struck landscapes--

they signal what burns up old mechanisms,
the rote cyclicals of seasons, routines

into which one-way time-bound bodies are cast.
Winter making one desire--that part of it

containing stars or blankets, anything memory
clings to or words rend open. Stagnant water

reflecting back ridges of heaped up ground.
An autumnal reflux embodying a sorrow

or hunger for unfixed space. Death imagined
as a motionless mode of contemplation.

from Exigent Futures
Accidental Center
(Heller's first book, presented complete)

from «Oppen’s Thematics: [what are poets for?]»
(a talk given at the Kelly Writers House celebration of George Oppen, April 7, 2008)
Michael Heller

Interview With Michael Heller
Thomas Fink

Uncertain Poetries [pdf]
Selected Essays on Poets, Poetry and Poetics
Michael Heller


Michael Heller at Light and Dust Anthology of Poetry

Michael Heller at PennSound

from Uncertain Poetries:
Selected Essays
Michael Heller

Rethinking Rilke

A friend writes: "If you can find a positive way in Rilke, please let me know what it is--I see him leading to orphic silence, luxurious melancholy and a kind of stellar voice that few are capable of." I take up my friend's word, "positive," and bobble it before me in amusement. How much we want our ironies (Rilke claimed no civilization could be built on irony!), and how little we want them to cost us. In the last twenty years, we've built our ironies around discourse and "language," on their duplicity and on their power to impose, and that, I presume, is what makes for something "positive." During this time, we've thought little or at best, indelicately, about the word as emanating from a carnal being though perhaps with the appearance of Bakhtin's work and with Elaine Scarry's The Body of Pain a balance is being restored. In this new atmosphere, Rilke's work ought to be reconsidered ....

Rainer Maria Rilke
b. Dec. 4 1875

    On the edge of the night
    Rainer Maria Rilke
    translated by Philipp Kellmeyer

    My room and this vastness,
    awake over parroting land,—
    are one. I am a string,
    strung over rustling wide

    The things are violin bodies,
    full of grumbling dark;
    inside the wifes' weeping is dreaming,
    inside the rancour of whole dynasties
    is stirring in the sleep...
    I shall
    shake silverly: then
    everything underneath me will live,
    and what errs in the things,
    will strive after the light,
    which falls from my dancing tone,
    around which heaven waves,
    through narrow, yearning cracks,
    into the old
    chasms without

Excerpts from the Duino Elegies
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by John Waterfield

The Rainer Maria Rilke Archive

Duino Elegies
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Cohn

Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke at PoemHunter


Cháteau de Muzot
Alma Moodie and Werner Reinhardt


Hannah Weiner
(Nov 4, 1928—Sept 11, 1997)

Charles Bernstein on Hannah Weiner

Excerpt from Abacus 107
Hannah Weiner
well the no rock sits on a ledge      after you leap upon it
you can rock slowly to and fro      you can also show
yourself one part leg sometimes arm      this shows you
are there      rocking on the no rock will make people
nervous      well the no ledge is there      the no rock
rests      you gotta believe in it or it wont work      it isnt
exactly astral and it isnt exactly imaginative its just that
you can climb upon the rock and sit down      well i guess
that will confuse everybody      well you cant really sit
still      now if the no rock ahem i have a computer see
the sun      dont interrupt      erg      well if you have a
computer how many rocks can you make      five      has
anybody an idea of what its like to climb an astral
Hannah Weiner Tribute



The Case for the Coalition
Harper is a dangerous driver, and we're taking away the keys.
Michael Byers

Q&A: Coalition government
How might it work in Canada

Canada Coalition crisis
The delicate role of the Governor General

Constitution and precedent are on coalition's side
Patrick Corrigan

Ignorance of parliamentary rules is distorting debate over legitimacy
Peter H. Russell

[I'm indebted to hysperia at mirabile dictu for many of these links.]

The Governor-General's options
Historian Bob Beal on the troubling precedents Rideau Hall could set in dealing with a request by the Prime Minister to dissolve or prorogue Parliament

Harper was in on the ground floor of coalition building
Chantal Hébert

Ironically, it was Stephen Harper who first brought the option of vaulting to power from the benches of the official Opposition to the fore in the early days of Paul Martin's 2004 minority regime.

Even before the presentation of Martin's Speech from the Throne, Harper had sought out his two opposition rivals to lay the groundwork of an alliance to unseat the Liberals. He would not have entered a formal coalition, but he was willing to advance key priorities of his opposition partners (starting with Gilles Duceppe) in exchange for their support for a Conservative government.

The separatist Bloc Québécois was part of secret plotting in 2000 to join a formal coalition with the two parties that now make up Stephen Harper's government, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

How to defuse the crisis
Marc Lee
The Progressive Economics Forum

The PM must surely have learned by now that he cannot govern with a minority as if it were a majority. If not, it is time he is removed from power, either by the Two-Thirds Coalition or by his own party. This PR campaign of smearing a stimulus package as “socialist economics” is appalling. I guess this means every country in the world except Canada has gone socialist. And if he really believes that then proroguing until a budget in late-January will not change the fundamental equation that this is a mean-spirited government that will not lift a finger to help Canadians or do its part of an international effort to confront the crisis.
Quebec Bashing:
Harper Reverts to his Reform Party Roots
James Laxer
On his way up, Stephen Harper was happy to meet with, and compose letters to the Governor General, with Gilles Duceppe, as well as with Jack Layton. ... (....)

As long as the Bloc hated the Liberals, Harper was prepared to regard its MPs as people who wanted to de-centralize Canada just a little more than he did.

Lately though, as Stephen Harper sees it, the ungrateful Quebecois have bitten the Conservative hand that has been feeding them.(....)

Yesterday, Stephen Harper’s performance during Question Period in the House of Commons was a disgrace. To hold onto office, and to deny the House the opportunity to vote on a motion of non-confidence, Harper said he will never relinquish the keys of power to a coalition that relies on the support of the Bloc. So what if a few years ago, he was prepared to do precisely the same thing.

He’s now moved to new and very dangerous ground. Yesterday, he virtually denied that Bloc MPs were entitled to perform their parliamentary functions and to have a say in the governing of the country. Since 1993, the Bloc Quebecois has been a major party in federal politics. In every general election since then, the Bloc has won more seats than any other party in Quebec.

At present, support for sovereignty in Quebec has fallen to a ten year low. By agreeing to support the coalition, the Bloc has undertaken to put sovereignty on the back- burner for the next eighteen months so that the government of Canada can grapple with the economic crisis. Surely, pragmatic arrangements of this kind are precisely the way ahead for a Canada that will always include Quebec.


Coalition for Change


We can't lose this moment
Naomi Klein

...what I find most exciting about what is going on right now - beyond just getting rid of Harper, which is exciting in and of itself - is that we have this opportunity to show what proportional representation (PR) would look like, because all of this talk that this is a coup is a joke.

What is being proposed by this coalition is much closer to representative democracy than what we have right now, which is a government that has [slightly more than] 35 per cent of the popular vote in a turnout that was historically low, of 59 per cent of Canadian voters, which means that even though the Tories won more seats they had fewer actual votes than in the last election.

I think it is really important to talk about democracy, about what it actually means in this period. In some ways I think it is even more important than talking about the policies, because our electoral system is broken. Because of the Tories' extraordinary opportunism and terrible calculation we now have an opportunity to see a better version of democracy and see more people represented in government.

To me the best case scenario that could come out of this is, one, you get the coalition, and, two, the NDP uses this moment to really launch a national discussion about why we need PR and that that becomes one of the things that comes out of this crisis.

Johann Fournier


...the linguistic displacement provides the kind of discursive utopia where I can try to explain in which horizon I would locate my work if it were to affect the orientation of philosophy as such.
Sub specie universitatis
Etienne Balibar
Topoi Vol. 25, Numbers 1-2, September 2006, special issue "Philosophy : What is to be done ?"
However crucial these two ambitious strategies for the enunciation of the universal might be considered-the one based on a scheme of Double Truth (theoretical univocity vs practical equivalence), and the one based on the conflictual relationship between a Sovereign discourse and its internal Other-they don't seem to me to exhaust our problem. In view of many current debates about the heterogeneity of cultures, the possibilities that its recognition opens, but also the obstacles that it raises before a universal institution of the universal, it seems now necessary to think of the paradoxes of its construction not only in terms of difference or conflict, but in terms of translation.

The debate (or perhaps we should say rather the new debate) on the nature and the effects of translation has been running for several decades now, mainly in the realm of "cultural studies." But nobody doubts that it has a philosophical dimension (in which in some sense the orientations and future status of philosophy are at stake). Conceptions of translation with different philosophical backgrounds (logical, structuralist, hermeneutic) are also constantly involved in debates about universalism and communitarianism or multi-culturalism, which shows that theories and concepts immediately acquire a political meaning. I want to briefly sketch the way in which I think that another strategy to "speak the universal" is involved here (a divided one admittedly, whose intentions are at stake in its own development), and which traditional metaphysical issue it should lead us to revisit (namely the problem of individuality and individuation).(....)

To speak the universal as translation therefore is not simply to advocate translating (or translating more), but it is to translate again, otherwise and elsewhere, for other groups and individuals who will thus gain access to the labor of translation. And if translating practices have produced (and keep producing) political communities, to reflect on the possible transformations of these practices is eminently a meta-political, a philosophical task (in the sense of returning to the elements, the very stoicheia of politics, which allow us to understand its alternatives, its powers, possibilities and constraints.)

Julian Röder


Neoliberal Poetry [PDF]
C. Alexander, K. Gallagher, M. Regan
A broadside from Rubbaducky

A new order has emerged, so quickly & so thoroughly that most of us have yet to notice it has already taken over our lives. This new order runs on the assumption of strong property rights, free markets & free trade as inherent moral goods. Deregulation, privatization, & withdrawal of the state from social services & cultural initiatives are its hallmarks. The individual stands alone, “making it” or not – thriving, surviving, or falling dead to the side – by virtue of the resources that she can marshal & her sole ability to manage them; by the birth-rights of capital, connections, education, last & often least, ability.

Social practices once understood as sites of liberation are now understood with reference to competition in the market; makers have become players or entrepreneurs. These days, there’s little sense that poetry is larger than oneself & one’s “seminal” effort, or that community is more than a spotlight for the Me Show. Unfortunately, in this model, we take part in stripping poetry of its power, ceding it to market forces. Lately, it’s become a game: tailor poetic practice to be recognizable within the terms of the academy – poets obviously taking up critics’ concerns in poetic form, pining for a successful surgery from [insert name of hot young critic here]. Poets measure each move – not by love or hope or the imagination, but performance anxiety. What happens when poetry is written by people in graduate school for professors & other people in graduate school? White middle class teacher language. Yet, the progenitors of this, the New American poets, entered the academy with great trepidation. Not bound to the discursive. It’s all become a matter of accruing cultural capital – in short, a tenure-track job & a salary. You can smell the white gloves a mile away.

Which one of your little piggies will you chop off first? Because there are just two positions in the neoliberal order:

CYNICISM: the willingness to cut your feet to order

INFANTILISM: the happy-talk that blinds the other 4 piggies to their predicament

¶ BRANDING YOUR MEASURE Here is the typical language of branding: “Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me, Inc. . . . the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work & chalk up a remarkable track record, & looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh.” Under neoliberalism, the contemporary poetry scene – especially the “innovative” scene – has succumbed to branding.

via lime tree


Julian Röder


The Seventh
Attila József
April 11, 1905 - Dec. 3, 1937
Translated by: Gabor K. Tozser

If you set out in this world,
better be born seven times.
Once, in a house on fire,
once, in a freezing flood,
once, in a wild madhouse,
once, in a field of ripe wheat,
once, in an empty cloister,
and once among pigs in sty.
Six babes crying, not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

Great Expectations:
The Poetry of Attila József in Translation
George Szirtes

Attila József, who committed suicide at the age of thirty two in 1937, was a great tragic poet, one of the key figures of twentieth century Hungarian, and indeed European, literature. As with many great writers, his art and reputation are so intimately connected that not only has he passionate and active readers in his own language, but a potential readership prepared for his presence by reputation in others. The myth precedes the work: not just the myth of the person but the myth of the work itself. There is, if you like, an Attila József shaped hole in the world waiting to be filled: normally sceptical readers come to the poems in translation expecting to discover a great poet.

Attila József Poems
Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner
1 2

That Which Your Heart Disguises
Amit szívedbe rejtesz

For the eightieth birthday of Freud

That which your heart disguises
open your eyes and see;
that which your eye surmises
let your heart wait to be.

Desire--and all concede it--
kills all who are not dead.
But happiness, you need it
as you need daily bread.

Children, all of the living
yearn for our mother's arms;
lovemaking, or death-giving,
to wed's to take up arms.

Be like the Man of Eighty,
hunted by men with guns,
who bleeds, but in his beauty
still sires a million sons.

That old thorn, broken piercing
your sole, is long since drawn.
Now from your heart's releasing
death, too, falls and is gone.

That which your eye surmises
seize with your hand and will;
that which your heart disguises
is yours to kiss or kill.


Filling in Secret Town trestle
Central Pacific Railroad
Near Gold Run California
Carleton E. Watkins

The World in a Frame:
Photographs From the Great Age of Exploration
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology


Of Being Numerous
George Oppen

‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance from Them, the people, does not also increase’
I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place

Yet I am one of those who from nothing but man’s way of thought and one of his dialects and what has happened to me
Have made poetry

To dream of that beach
For the sake of an instant in the eyes,

The absolute singular

The unearthly bonds
Of the singular
Which is the bright light of shipwreck


Stupid to say merely
That poets should not lead their lives
Among poets,

They have lost the metaphysical sense
Of the future, they feel themselves
The end of a chain

Of lives, single lives
And we know that lives
Are single

And cannot defend
The metaphysic
On which rest

The boundaries
Of our distances.
We want to say

‘Common sense’
And cannot. We stand on

That denial
Of death that paved the cities,
Paved the cities

For generation and the pavement

Is filthy as the corridors
Of the police.

George Oppen Feature
Editor: Thomas Devaney
Jacket 36

“I am / of that people the grass / blades touch”:
Walt Whitman and the Aesthetics of Curiosity in George Oppen’s Critique of Violence
Zack Finch

Few poets in the 20th century wrestled more productively with Walt Whitman than George Oppen. Oppen’s complex engagement with Whitman sprang from a deep anxiety about the elder poet’s core belief in a transcendental premise — that all things, being identical with one another, can be fused into coherent, spiritual totality by any imagination capable of perceiving it. The notion that “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” sounds harmless enough in the context of a poem or a sermon — indeed, its truth is fundamental and inspiring. But Oppen was haunted by the potentially violent consequences of an Enlightenment ideal that assumes, as it did increasingly for Whitman, a sense of moral and historical imperative.

John Peck in his essay “George Oppen and the World in Common” has noted how Oppen’s poetry negotiates Whitman in order to rethink the “misconception of the common world bequeathed to us” by “Rousseau and then the revolutionaries of 1789” (79—80). As a means of exploring Oppen’s rethinking of Whitman in greater detail, I’d like to consider how the figure of touch is emblematic of a significant distance between the two poets, which Oppen attempts to bridge in a handful of important poems. Of all the senses, touch embodies a range of erotic and political meanings in a most immediate way, for it takes place at the threshold where separate bodies, realizing their essential difference, respond to fundamental needs for intimacy, proximity, solidarity and love.


George Oppen
1908 - 1984


balanced at west mitten
rock balancing
Chris Corrigan

via cassandra pages


Words Without Borders - December 2008
The Home Front

"International dispatches on domestic conflicts. Here homeland security is both threatened and maintained, as couples tie the knot but long to cut the cord, and double lives are singled out. From Norwegian train stations to Greek port towns, in Armenian saga and Mayan myth, households are besieged but also defended as the family turns on its nuclear power. Kjell Askildsen, Constance Delaunay, Juan Forn, Espido Freire, Lena Kitsopoulou, Hagop Oshagan, Miguel Angel Oxlaj Cúmez, Mercè Rodoreda, Astrid Roemer, and Olga Tokarczuk keep the home fires burning (or burning down the house)."

Hagop Oshagan from The Remnants
Translated from the Armenian by G. M. Goshgarian

Oshagan poses huge challenges for his Armenian-language reader as well as his translator. This is one reason why Oshagan’s novels, which are in the tradition of Stendhal, Dostoyevsky, Proust and Joyce, are not more widely known. In addition to his formal complexity, Oshagan often seems deliberately ambiguous, the sequence of words pointing in several, often contradictory directions at the same time. The translator is tempted to make Oshagan accessible by standardizing his language, making it seem natural, in short, by domesticating its semantic multiplicities and harnessing its torrential energy.

In G. M. Goshgarian’s groundbreaking English rendition of Mnastortats, Oshagan’s novel has found its translator. Goshgarian has translated into English more Oshagan than anyone else, most of it as yet unpublished. He says: “Oshagan’s Armenian is not at all natural but barbarously beautiful.” Being faithful to Oshagan, therefore, can appear to be bad translation until the reader begins to understand the author’s logic, deliberate puzzlers, and snares. The meanings begin to multiply, and, to paraphrase Oshagan, the reader is home—in literature.—Taline Voskeritchian

Her parents, like thousands upon thousands of other creatures of their class, lived lives divided between earning their keep and taking care of their children: lives of torment, but without wounds. Carved by the Lord's chisel, without annulet or capital, and straight as a cradle-rod from one end to the other. No wind bearing danger from outside, from the world and its wide expanses, would ever blow into it.

The Archipelago of Fear
Are fortification and foreign aid making Kabul more dangerous?
Charles Montgomery
photographs by James Whitlow Delano

This was more than an aesthetic critique. Those who look at the intersection of psychology and urban form suggest that the short-term gains from fortification might be overshadowed by the hostile response it fuels. Aggressive architectures — such as high, bare, cement walls — have been found to produce a backlash of vandalism and incivility in peaceful cities. Buildings offer cues suggesting how people should act. They tell us about our relationships with one another. University of Victoria environmental psychologist Robert Gifford once put it to me this way: “Buildings are symbols. They communicate to people, even if it’s not what their architects intend.” Fahim Hakim suggested that in Kabul, the fortifications around foreign compounds reinforce Afghans’ suspicion that those inside the walls have more in common with their former Soviet occupiers than they admit. “We just don’t know if they are here to protect us or themselves,” he said.

In Darkness Visible
Nicholas Hughes

via Heading East


Emerson and Self-Culture
John T. Lysaker
Reviewed by Corey McCall

Until quite recently, philosophy departments have generally proven inhospitable ground for interpretations of the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. With the exception of Classical American thinkers such as William James and John Dewey, few philosophers have acknowledged Emerson as a precursor, leaving him to their colleagues in Literature and American Studies Departments. With the eclipse of Pragmatism and the ascendancy of analytic philosophy in the middle of the twentieth century, Emerson was largely forgotten by philosophers.

While this situation largely remains unchanged, there are some nascent signs that philosophers are beginning to reconsider Emerson as a philosopher.


Infinity's Kitchen

a graphic literary journal featuring experimental writing and art. The publication is online and in print. We'd like to cook up a tasty mishmash of words, sounds and images, using whichever ingredients seem best.
via NewPages Blog


Jordan Davis

The twin American habits of triumphalism and chasing success, then, account for some of the outsized interest in poets forged in the crucible of Soviet Communism, as opposed to those who came of age under Franco or de Gaulle or the first fifty governments of Italy. Some of the success has to be attributed to the intelligent marketing of remarkable work, such as that of Ecco's influential series from the 1980s of selected poems by international poets from Milosz and fellow Pole Zbigniew Herbert alongside others like the Slovenian shaman Tomaz Salamun.

The Slovenes are a well-to-do, literate people less encumbered than most by the usual nationalist narrative. The fact that the small nation of Slovenia came into existence in 1991, when it withdrew from Yugoslavia in the face of Belgrade's fiscal and military aggrandizement, has something to do with it. Where other countries put up statues of generals on horseback, Slovenia's monuments honor writers. At the moment, its principal export is the Lacanian contrarian Slavoj Zizek. Of Slovenia's 2 million citizens, no fewer than twenty have seen their verses translated into English. What is more curious, where traces of foreignness invariably cling to the translated poems of their counterparts from elsewhere, Slovene poems, preoccupied with daily life and idiosyncratic indirect speech, often sound uncannily like American poems.


The Progressive Economics Forum

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

The Conservatives are appearing on news shows, talk shows and are organizing rallies putting out the word that what is happening in Ottawa is an attempted “coup”. At the centre of this inane claim is the proposition that Canadians just re-elected Stephen Harper as prime minister and that he has a mandate to govern.(....)

The Canadian prime minister is not a quasi-king in the manner of the American president. He or she rises or falls depending on the votes of the majority in the House of Commons. That is what is going on here. What is coming to an end is the rule of a prime minister who thought he was a king.
  - James Laxer


...and everything is quiet now
Norbert Maier

via Shaun Mullen

Marketday at Middelburg
Charles Corbet
c. 1910

Three Belgian Autochromists
Charles Corbet, Paul Sano and Alfonse Van Besten

via Mrs. Deane


... a Canadian online poetry magazine celebrating the non-conforming, the radical, the alternative, the surreal, the avant-garde, the non-linear, the abstract, the experimental.

John C. Goodman (editor) interviewed [PDF]

I don’t think opposition to the avant-garde is an artistic issue, I think it’s an emotional and psychological issue. People get entrenched in ideas and no amount of logic, persuasion, pleading or justification will sway them. We can see the same kind of resistance to new ideas in religion and politics, to mention only two areas. People frame the world in a certain way and can’t cope with the psychologically uncertainty and emotional upheaval of changing it.

Ultimately we don’t have any choice but to change because our language is transmogrifying around us. Blogging, texting, posting are changing the way people write, spell, use syntax – how words and meanings are linked together. Language is a shifting sand.

Our shared reality is largely a linguistic structure. We shape reality by the way we use language. As our language evolves, what we call “reality” evolves along with it.

via loveecstasycrime


...an online publication primarily dedicated to emerging artists and the innovate photography they produce. Each issue is different not only in content but also in terms of its structure, emulating the continual shift of media presented on the web. Wassenaar is published three times a year.


The Betrayal of Images
Mark Young

for Michel Foucault

There is this
treacherous space
between the image
& the text that
many have misread &
fallen into. I stand
well back, let others
with more sure footing
describe it to me.
Series Magritte
Mark Young

Georges Seurat



Announcing the launch of experiment-o, AngelHousePress's on line annual PDF magazine, celebrating art that risks. The debut issue features Gary Barwin, Emily Falvey, Spencer Gordon, Camille Martin, rob mclennan, Sheila E. Murphy, Pearl Pirie, Roland Prevost, Jenny Sampirisi and Steve Venright.
  - via rob mclennan

Excerpts from Avalanche
rob mclennan


move a subsequent dream            ;           poetical
& street serene
                                                   I am wonder
out loud ;      ground your feet there beneath

I am hastily, silent
                                             processional, starved
& seeing stars               ;               fools & ethics, wonder

would you burn from a bridge                ;               or lapse

           the water stone cleft down to bone

every language is a barrier



Charles Corbet
c. 1910

Three Belgian Autochromists


Open Letters Monthly - December 2008


Before there was Norman Rockwell, there was J.C. Leyendecker, inventor of the advertising brand, star illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post, and clandestine gay man. America loved what Leyendecker drew; Steve Donoghue shows us what they were really seeing.

The Invention of Photography
W. S. Di Piero

The adenoidal, glass-brick Fifties,
Tarzan featured on the cell block
for Moyamensing's livid inmates,
doing their screening room shuffle,
while Uncle P. talked to a guard
and I feared things that they did not.


In the fearless 1850s, mad-hatters forged
images of dolls, doilies, sewers,
eight-year-old odalisques
in off-the-shoulder nighties...
Gentleman Brits claimed their Sphinx
and Hindoo temples. We had our Civil War,
rail cuts and silver mines,
darkroom vans racked with plates,
jerky, mule feed, cameras
the Sioux called shadow catchers.

A new issue of The Threepenny Review

hat tip to the Literary Saloon

Interpreters of Lives
Javier Marías
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa


Speech and Writing According to Hegel
Jacques Derrida
pdf download

... the transcendental imagination is also the movement of temporalisation which Heidegger has so admirably repeated in his Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics; this will later be important for us. We shall soon see what time signifies, how it signifies, that is how it constitutes the process of signification.

The concept of sign, both production and intuition, will then be marked by the scandal of this contradiction; all the oppositions of concepts will be gathered, summed up, sunken in it - and in such a way that all contradictions will seem to be resolved into it. But at the same time what is thereby betokened in the name sign already appears irreducible to all the formal oppositions between concepts, since it welcomes them simultaneously, admitting in itself both the interior and the exterior, the spontaneous and the receptive, the intelligible and the sensible, the same and the other etc. The sign is thus also the sign of the following question - it signifies the following question: is this contradiction dialecticity itself, or is the dialectic the resolution of the sign in the horizon of the non-sign? We see that the question of the sign quickly merges with the question what is dialectics? or better with the question: can the question of the sign or the question of dialectics be put in the form 'What . . . ?'?


Alfonse Van Besten
c. 1910

Three Belgian Autochromists


Nancy Spero / Antonin Artaud / Jacques Derrida [PDF]
Lost in translation?
Lucy Bradnock


This essay seeks to situate the influence of Antonin Artaud on the work of the American artist Nancy Spero within the realm of linguistic dislocation, drawing on her experiences in Paris during the period 1959-64. The problematic nature of language, translation and nationality in the literature surrounding her work is highlighted, and an alternative methodology is proposed: drawing on the work of Julia Kristeva and particularly on that of Jacques Derrida, the essay asks whether Spero’s quotation of Artaud can be seen as effective through the medium of difference rather than identification.

It will always be me speaking a foreign language with an always recognisable accent.
  -  Antonin Artaud
‘If you’re not French how can you understand Artaud?’ This was the question posed by Margit Rowell, curator of the Museum of Modern Art’s 1996 exhibition of drawings by the almost legendary French artist, poet and theorist Antonin Artaud. Responding, at the Drawing Centre in New York on 10 November 1996, was a group of artists, critics and art historians, both American and European: among them the late Jacques Derrida, Artaud scholar and publisher of the poetry and literary magazine Sulfur Clayton Eschelman, post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak, Semiotext(e) founder and editor Sylvère Lotringer and Nancy Spero, the only artist on the panel, whose work has, since the late 1960s, been allied with the writings of the Frenchman.

The curator’s question, of course, was a rhetorical one. Yet the matter of how, and with what implications, a female, indeed feminist, American artist like Spero accesses the words and images of the Frenchman Artaud, remains unsatisfactorily addressed in much of the writing on the subject. The difference in gender is difficult to ignore, and yet the relation of Spero’s artistic methods to the divide between America and Europe during the 1960s is even less often addressed, with many studies of American artists in Paris limited to considerations of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Larry Rivers. How and why did Spero journey to France and Artaud’s writings and drawings travel to America? And where might we situate the collision of their work?

Papers of Surrealism Issue 3 Spring 2005

via Anny Ballardini


William Gaddis, the Last Protestant
Essay by John Lingan

The Quarterly Conversation - issue 14


Arbres, hiver
Georges Seurat
b. Dec. 2, 1859


Just Priceless
Josh Marshall

TPM Reader DR updates us on the Tory trainwreck up North ...
Nice of you to notice, given the amount of time I've spent reading TPM for the last year...the best source ever for US election politics.

Anyway, the answer up here is Hell, yeah!

Stephen Harper didn't so much win enough seats to form a minority government in October; the Liberals simply lost dozens of seats because of a terrible campaign and a weak leader. Now that leader is poised to become prime minister of a coalition government.

Harper, who admires Bush's politics and tactics, is actually smarter than Bush. But he's much nastier, and chose a poor time to try to stick a machete into the opposition parties by cutting off their public funding for election campaigns (can you imagine Obama, upon assuming office, trying to eliminate public campaign financing?) and the entire civil service by banning their right to strike. That, and being the only G8 country to not initiate any financial stimulus for the economy.

Like Bush, Harper has contempt for government. Unlike Bush, that contempt extends to public spending: he hates it and would be delighted to see government as little more than a placid flow through mechanism for the private sector as it does whatever it wants.

Look north for the next few days...it's going to be fun!

I really can't think of another political leader of late whose hubris has had such immediate consequences.

...as the government's economic update revealed last week, Harper can suppress his deep right-wing urges only so long before they start erupting in the most embarrassing ways. The update was almost incoherent.

In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the '30s, the document was severely lacking in economic stimulus, even reporting plans for a small surplus (whatever happened to Harper's new best friend, the deficit?) and was full of old-style partisan backstabbing and public sector union bashing. It was more Sarah Palin than Barack Obama.
  -  Linda McQuaig


Making coalition government work
Duncan Cameron
via mirabile dictu


Leonid Tishkov and Boris Bendikov

via roo


The western world is scarcely aware of this overwhelming humiliation experienced by most of the world's population, which they have to overcome without losing their common sense and without being seduced by terrorists, extreme nationalists or fundamentalists. Neither the magical realistic novels that endow poverty and foolishness with charm, nor the exoticism of popular travel literature manage to fathom this cursed private sphere. The great majority of the world population - which is passed over with a light depreciating smile and feelings of pity and compassion - is afflicted by spiritual misery.

The problem facing the west today is not only to discover which terrorist is preparing a bomb in which tent, which cave, or which street of which remote city, but to understand the poor, scorned majority that does not belong to the western world.
  - Orhan Pamuk, Listen to the damned


Fishing equipment
Photo by: Vilho Setälä
Photographs of Liv Villages

December 01, 2008

Boulevard du Temple
Louis Daguerre
1838 or early 1839

Notes on the Image
no useless leniencey

In 1838 or 1839 Louis Daguerre took this ten minute exposure of the Boulevard du Temple, although the street was busy the lengthy exposure time meant only one person was recorded - the man having his shoes shined in the bottom left of the image. This is the first known photograph of a human being.

Giorgio Agamben takes this image as the moment of the Last Judgement, in which we are revealed in our most minor, everyday gesture (gestus), which "is now charged with the weight of an entire life" ("Judgement Day" 24). In Revelation we are judged by the book: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (20: 12) Our last judgement today will be made by the image. The opportunism of the photograph allows it to capture the momentary gesture, to fix us in that gesture that "collects and condenses in itself the meaning of an entire existence." ("Judgement Day" 24) In the Islamic tradition if a deed is denied on the Day of Judgement then the body part that committed it will testify against them. The photograph could be understood as the testifying of the gesture, which we must yield to.


The Silence
Ernst Herbeck
Translated by Oya Ataman and Gary Sullivan

The burden is the silence
in summer as in winter.
How it is on the earth
covered in ice and snow.

That is all awfully important
and very surprising to us.
But it isn’t in the lawn roses
that say nothing more to us.

The Global Warming Swimming Pool
Swimming Above a Submerged City


Balzac’s maxim that “behind every great fortune lies a great crime” may yet prove a fitting epitaph for American capitalism. A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal reveals that CEOs at major US financial and real estate firms converted tens of millions of dollars of overvalued stock into cash prior to the eruption of the current financial crisis, even as many of their corporations approached the precipice.
  - Tom Eley

Social Hygiene: Based on a True Story
Dave Rogers

We're killing ourselves with our own bullshit. Literally and figuratively. Bad guys kill us with guns and bombs based on bullshit, and the "good guys" are killing us with bullshit about life. That guy who got trampled to death was killed by a culture that thinks happiness is something you buy at a store. A culture that promotes fear. "Act now! Quantities are limited!" A culture that views buying and selling as the central, essential, vital act. The meaning of life is to be found in the marketplace, because the market for things to believe in is infinite, and there's always someone who'll want to sell you something to believe in. And those are the good guys!

They're trapped in their own narratives about what makes them the good guys, just like the guys who kill people with guns and bombs. We buy into their narratives and look for supporting roles to play in them so we can all play a part in the "larger picture." "Open source elected President Obama." Right. Whatever.

It's not that narrative is itself, bad. It's not, and it's probably even necessary. But we really ought to get better at figuring out just how much of it is pure, unadulterated bullshit, and relegate it to the fiction section of our internal libraries. A lot fewer of us would be dying because of it. And a lot fewer of us would feel compelled to actually kill someone over it.


Rune Guneriussen

via roo


Hope You Die Before You Get Old
David Michael Green

As a Baby Boomer, I’m sure not encouraging generational warfare in America. I have everything to lose from such a battle.

On the other hand, though, as a political analyst, I can hardly believe we’re not seeing it.

Never has it been so manifestly logical. Never would it be so thoroughly deserved. And yet, never has it been so astonishingly absent from the playing field of American politics.(....)

Could you imagine parents so reckless that they would party themselves into a drunken stupor by stealing the funds from their children? I’m not talking about burning through the inheritance, which, after all, is the parents’ money to do what they want with. No, I’m talking about spending the money the kids have saved themselves for their own college education, or for a down-payment on a house. Outrageous, eh? Well, guess what? That’s exactly what the Baby Boomers did. Because they wanted all the government services they got, plus the tax cuts that put a little extra jingle in their pockets, plus the luxury of being so stupid and ill-informed that they didn’t have to grapple with the questions of where that tax ‘cut’ money was really going, or how utterly bogus were the administration’s claims about its policies, especially concerning the hugely expensive Iraq war. Put it all together and it equates to living well beyond your means. And when you do that, there are only so many ways to deal with the difference in what you’re spending versus what you’re bringing in. Cue the kids here.


Tree Emanations
Denny Moers Photographic Monoprints

What Is Eco-Poetry
Forrest Gander


The Mill-Race
Anne Winters


In close-ups now, you can see it in every face,
despite the roped rain light pouring down the bus-windows—
it’s the strain of gravity itself, of life hours cut off and offered
to the voice that says “Give me this day your
life, that is LABOR, and I’ll give you back
one day, then another. For mine are the terms.”
It’s gravity, spilling in capillaries, cheek-tissue trembling,
despite the make-up, the monograms, the mass-market designer scarves,
the army of signs disowning the workplace and longing for night ...
But even as the rain slackens, labor
lengthens itself along Broadway. The night signs
come on, that wit has set up to draw money: O’DONNELL’S,
BEIRUT CAFE, YONAH’S KNISH ... People dart out from awnings.
The old man at the kiosk starts his late shift, whipping off rainstreaked
lucite sheets from his stacks of late-market newsprint.

If there is leisure, bus-riders, it’s not for you,
not between here and uptown or here and the Bronx.
Outside Marine Midland, the black sea of unmarked corporate hire-cars
waits for the belated office lights, the long rainy run to the exurbs;
and perhaps on a converted barn roof in Connecticut
leisure may silver the shingles, somewhere the densely packed
labor-mines that run a half mile down from the sky
to the Battery rise, metamorphic, in water-gardens,
lichened windows where the lamp lights Thucydides or Gibbon.

It’s not a water-mill really, labor. It’s like the nocturnal
paper-mill pulverizing, crushing each fiber of rag into atoms,
or the workhouse tread-mill, smooth-lipped, that wore down a London of doxies and sharps,
or the flour-mill, faërique, that raised the cathedrals and wore out hosts of dust-demons,
but it’s mostly the miller’s curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt- mill, that makes the sea, salt.

The Displaced of Capital
Anne Winters

The Anne Winters Challenge
Should a Marxist poet be stylistically ornate?
Dan Chiasson

Songs for the Floating World
Anne Winters


Jean Morris

Jean blogs at tasting rhubarb


Errant Thistle Cigarette
Jordan Davis

A mass murder and a cow
Keep the world economy going.

An allusion and photoshop
Keep the world economy going.

Tell us your story. How did you
Keep the world economy going?


Hardy's Catalogues
Anne Winters

Fleeing his clubs, dull honors, wives, the ageing Hardy
hunches down in his potting-shed with his thumbtip-fumbled, fine-
printed seed catalogue's inflorescences—
peripherally glimpsing the oxygenless blue line

of the fleur-de-lys scaling his inner wrist;
his chalky knuckles, his forearm's crisp, lisse,
pleated wrinkles; softly brown-spotted
as a fox terrier's belly. Yet this pleases, only this—

age-speckled surfaces, sun-galls rose-speckled; puckering
petals rugosely leaf-veined: the saturate, flooded
stemlines' mauves and verdures on the backlit

catalogue's tissuelike (nearly self-composting)
pages—like his skin, all milliner-ribboned; yet with, barely hooded,
things as they are and will be visible beneath it.

Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind
Wayne F. Miller: Photographs 1942-1958
Stephen Daiter Gallery

via Andrew Abb

Wayne Miller at Magnum

Chicago's South side
Wayne Miller

Japan. 1945. Hiroshima Aftermath
Wayne Miller


The Strong Poem
K. Silem Mohammad

The weak poem is often closer to being an efficacious instrument of actual political change than the strong poem.

The strong poem makes nothing happen. Rather, it keeps things from happening in an extremely forceful way, like a bear hug.

There are no strong poems in French, Swedish, or Hawaiian.

As a loose general rule, the stronger the poem, the fewer metaphors.

Usually the strong poem happens without warning. To set out to write a strong poem is an act of extreme hubris and foolhardiness, even though this does not mean it is impossible.


International Journal of Motorcycle Studies
Volume 4, Issue 2: Fall 2008

This issue takes us back to the 1970s, to one apparently seminal year in motorcycle culture, to be precise: Errol Vieth discusses the first serious Australian biker film Stone, while Adrien Litton revisits (and revisits and revisits) Robert Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance--both introduced in 1974. In addition, this issue features reviews of Mobility without Mayhem, the Mammoth Book of Bikers and Hell Ride.
Call for Papers: Motorcycling Culture and Myth
PCA/ACA, April 8-11, 2009


Coalition Government: Compilation Of News & Articles Urging Citizens To Act
Janet M Eaton


Józef Pankiewicz