Swan Upping at Cookham
Trivia; or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London
b. June 30, 1685
If the strong Cane support thy walking Hand,
Chairmen no longer shall the Wall command;
Ev’n sturdy Car-men shall thy Nod obey,
And rattling Coaches stop to make thee Way:
This shall direct thy cautious Tread aright,
Though not one glaring Lamp enliven Night.
Let Beaus their Canes with Amber tipt produce,
Be theirs for empty Show, but thine for Use.
In gilded Chariots while they loll at Ease,
And lazily insure a Life’s Disease;
While softer Chairs the tawdry Load convey
To Court, to White’s, Assemblies, or the Play;
Rosie-complexion’d Health thy Steps attends,
And Exercise thy lasting Youth defends.
Imprudent Men Heav’ns choicest Gifts prophane.
Thus some beneath their arm support the Cane;
The dirty Point oft checks the careless Pace,
And miry Spots thy clean Cravat disgrace:
O! may I never such Misfortune meet,
May no such vicious Walkers croud the Street,
May Providence o’er-shade me with her Wings,
While the bold Muse experienc’d Dangers sings.
O TRIVIA, Goddess, leave these low Abodes,
And traverse o’er the wide ethereal Roads,
Celestial Queen, put on thy Robes of Light,
Now Cynthia nam’d, fair Regent of the Night.
At Sight of thee the Villain sheaths his Sword,
Nor scales the Wall, to steal the wealthy Hoard.
Oh! may thy Silver Lamp from Heav’n’s high Bow’r
Direct my Footsteps in the Midnight hour.
When Night first bids the twinkling Stars appear,
Or with her cloudy Vest inwraps the Air,
Then swarms the busie Street; with Caution tread,
Where the Shop-Windows falling threat thy Head;
Now Lab’rers home return, and join their Strength
To bear the tott’ring Plank, or Ladder’s Length;
Still fix thy Eyes intent upon the Throng,
And as the Passes open, wind along.
b. June 30, 1891
The death of enchantment
Max Cairnduff reads What Ever Happened to Modernism, Gabriel Josipovici
For Josipovici modernism is a response in art (all art, music and painting too for example, not just literature) to the “disenchantment of the world”. That disenchantment is the loss of the Medieval sense of the numinous as being part of everyday life. In short, the Medieval vision of a world filled with purpose and divine meaning gave way to what would ultimately become the Enlightenment with its vision of a secular world governed by reason and natural laws (yes, I did just gloss over about 400 years there).
This is absolutely critical to everything that follows. The death of enchantment does not mean that people were happy in the middle ages but disillusioned thereafter. It is not a personal loss of enchantment. The point is that the European concept of the world changed from it being a place in which the natural and supernatural were different facets of the same reality to a world in which the natural and the supernatural were firmly separated (and in which the supernatural could therefore potentially be discarded entirely).
With the death of enchantment comes the death of meaning. Before the disenchantment of the world it is possible to speak with authority, because the world has meaning from which authority can be derived. After that disenchantment there is no longer such an authority. The only authority that exists is that which we assert.
paddling in the sea
1909 - 1999
...ment 01: Welfare State (2011)
…ment is a journal for contemporary culture, art and politics. …ment acts as a field for enquiry, dialogue and experimentation and is committed to emerging forms and ideas. Inviting upcoming and established artists, thinkers and cultural workers, the publication addresses social and political issues in order to generate a dynamic discourse._______________________
Editor-in-chief: Federica Bueti
Associate Editors: Benoit Loiseau, Clara Meister
John Gay retrospective
Translated by Robert Lowell
I'm like the king of a rain-country, rich
but sterile, young but with an old wolf's itch,
one who escapes Fénelon's apologues,
and kills the day in boredom with his dogs;
nothing cheers him, darts, tennis, falconry,
his people dying by the balcony;
the bawdry of the pet hermaphrodite
no longer gets him through a single night;
his bed of fleur-de-lys becomes a tomb;
even the ladies of the court, for whom
all kings are beautiful, cannot put on
shameful enough dresses for this skeleton;
the scholar who makes his gold cannot invent
washes to cleanse the poisoned element;
even in baths of blood, Rome's legacy,
our tyrants' solace in senility,
we cannot warm up his shot corpse, whose food
is syrup-green Lethean ooze, not blood.
Mending Cowls, Cookham
b. June 29, 1861
Stonecutter: A Journal of Art and Literature, No. 1 (Spring / Summer 2011)
Reading Notes (Stonecutter)
a sampler courtesy of John Latta
Les Maladies de la Peau / Maladies of the Skin
translated by Charlotte Mandell :
(Secret, secretus, separate, hidden, rare, a work learned by heart that one will never recite?)Me—they say ‘world’ comes from the Latin ‘mundus,’ a box, a hut; thus each of us hides an adornment, an ornament, and the world is simply the reflection of what we dare to give.(World: we find the Etruscan goddess Munthukh, whose role was to gild and adorn, represented in mirrors—the goddess frames the mirror and I do not look at myself to remember myself. I look at myself to understand what I have to give because the image of the self does not protect from the weaknesses of the world.)
b. June 29, 1900
A Mask Of MotionEclipse
A Mask Of History
Would, he said, that my uncle
of poetry. Of any art, indeed!
— The fact is, I should say that he stood
to repeat in great detail
turned slightly toward the outside
that he might keep balance, on the stone
wall, and paraded his ideas
to all of us who would listen.
— An anecdote and a history
the rocks. He the partaker
hefted the green. The growing
emotion, that wouldn't remove
an hour, and then another, in order
to strain what he could believe
I care for my own and am never beholden
the brush the bush beside the flower
mark the granite island in the shade
the fish and lily pads. Turtles
not a moment wasted
and minstrels as a run into history
a free on-line archive focusing on digital facsimiles of the most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century. Eclipse also publishes carefully selected new works of book-length conceptual unity.
(1954 - 2006)
there, as in any freakish storm
there, as always;
is a celebration of
whose life is it anyways?
whose gnostics punctuation, got lost?
whose privilege, is never in debate?
we get off the maelstrom
get whose delusion is best, whose
comes in telegraphic chunks;
has adjustable filters;
whose breathing holes are
ranked in what order;
one-through-6 billion plus.
most are bruised, some happy;
happy delusions in premajority thoughts
which is a thought before it happens
which is elections jitters
terminal bruises on demand.
hours or so pass;
it's winter time, it's not enough. it's cold, too hot,
too many remnant hard things, left on a shelf,
left as discounts, as the new old, but more unique
as if naked lunch on the grass
was written by someone
with an entirely different set of circumstances
narrative, isn't that the sort of thing that forms identity,Narrativity
maybe I was thinking of another narrative. whatever
the case . . . I see narrative as something that needs
to be troubled, discarded or at least sent through the
I personally attempt to find the edge of narrative
where it starts to disintegrate into dada manifesto
and ends up negating itself . . . well, that’s not quite it
. . . I attempt to find the edge where narrative turns
into an endless [cycle] of rejecting, appropriating
[and] expelling . . . digressing from the thread of the
possible, to the impossible, to the utopian . . . that at
any moment, can fall into the depths of a tortuous
shadow . . . did I mention brandon teena was beaten,
raped, then murdered . . . I am not sure I said that . . .
anyways, I try to maintain a thin connective tissue of
narrative about the object at hand, so I don't lose
myself to a lack of gravity, fear, or trumped up
charges listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual
of mental disorders. but the question is how loose
can the connective tissue be and still maintain a
sense of cohesion? does it even need to be
narrative? could it be lists, phone numbers, or
instructions on the impossible!?
via riley dog
from From the Observatory
translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Marzo č pazzo, goes the Italian proverb; en abril, aguas mil, adds the Spanish. Madness and a thousand showers are what the assault on the rivers and torrents are made of. In March and April millions of elvers subject to the rhythm of the double instinct of darkness and distance wait for night to head up the spout of the fresh water, the flexible column that slides into the darkness of the estuaries, spreading the length of kilometers a slow, loosened waist; impossible to predict where, at what high hour, the unformed head all eyes and mouths and hair will begin the slide upriver, but the last coral has been cleared, the fresh water struggles against an implacable deflowering that takes it between mud and foam, the vigorous eels unite against the current into a common force in their blind will to go upstream, nothing will stop them now, not rivers not men not locks not waterfalls, the multiple serpents of the assault of European rivers will leave myriad corpses at every obstacle, will become segmented and writhe in the nets and the meanders, will lie by day in a profound torpor, invisible to other eyes, and every night they’ll remake the seething dense black cable and as if guided by a formula of stars, which Jai Singh might have measured with marble tapes and bronze compasses, they travel on toward fluvial sources, searching in innumerable stages for an arrival of which they know nothing, from which they can expect nothing; their force does not come from themselves, their reason palpitates in other tangles of energy that the sultan consulted in his way from portents and hopes and the primordial terror of the firmament filled with eyes and pulses.
A Trip to the Moon
(Le Voyage dans la lune)
via Nag on the Lake
from “The Open”Evie Shockley reads Ed Roberson
In a flattened sea of housing brick rubble,
a catch of broken glass shoots back the light
that lit its flash, a wave’s facet, sudden
ember through full daylight, pierced afternoon
of vacant block after block
whose lighthouse stare no longer gone looking
for work even as sight to see, flounders
for landing left to its address and on
those work commutes is sailed past unseen as
standing in the last building standing,
in a bare window, barely in his shorts;
his as none of the windows is curtained nor show
any sign but him of habitation—
the doors off the building, panes gone from
but him on the upper floor just wakened,
standing there, late foot on the sill as if
balanced on the prow of his ghost ship he
hasn’t even had to take over,
a lone survivor, a squatter keeping it
drifts out into the open
and the Poetry Foundation
Stephen Cope reviews City Eclogue
Chatahoula Study #2
Francis X. Pavy
Lars Iyer interview
‘Friendship is a comic art’, Gilles Deleuze says somewhere. ‘There are few people in the world with whom one can say insignificant things. You can only speak of trifles with very good friends’. W. and Lars certainly speak of trifles, of trivialities, of petty things that are undeserving of serious attention. But this insignificance makes up their friendship. It is part of its joy.
But Spurious is more than this, I hope. Its comic art, such as it is, is blackly comic, as is appropriate to a world being torn to pieces by neoliberal reforms, and with the threat of climatic apocalypse before it. The trivialities of W. and Lars are marked by a sense that the world is coming to an end, and that they are both, in some sense, responsible for it.
Of course, there is a voice in the novel that isn’t comic at all, and certainly isn’t autobiographical: I’m thinking of the damp, which, according to Lars, says only ‘I am that I am’, like God to Moses.
Review of Lars Iyer’s Spurious
As with Beckett and Bernhard before him, nobody will be fooled by the apparent simplicity of Spurious. Two men, both reasonably intelligent academics, talk. And that is it, really. They talk on trains, on the phone, at the pub. There is talk of action, but no action as such. Well, no, that’s not quite true, is it? Talking is an action, too, after all. It may be more dull than, say, sex (one hopes), and more slow than a high-speed chase, but conversation, the simple being-with somebody else, is perhaps a more primal act than we, who are often bored with those with whom we have to spend time, might wish to believe. The main characters of Spurious, W. & Lars (the first-person narrator), are bound together in this primal act. They are, in fact, in talking, and I dare say only in talking, each other’s Messiah —i.e., the (one) “to come” that “has come.” Fitting, perhaps, that the Messiah of a world such as ours should be so gloriously pitiful.
America’s Tea Party Movement:
The Rhetoric of Patriotism and the Politics of Whiteness
Fighting the Culture Wars With Hate, Violence and Even Bullets:
Throughout American history, racial and political rhetoric has often been used in tandem and been widely employed as a means of masking the vested economic interests of white America. For this reason, any large scale movements, especially ones that utilize such loaded and polarizing rhetoric as “patriotism” and “true America,” warrant a close inquiry that seeks to understand which individuals benefit most from the movement’s success. To understand the danger implicit in the establishment of organizations such as the Tea Party Movement, it is also critical to view its origins in relation to America’s history of racial discrimination. Furthermore, one must view the movement with an understanding of the way in which white America has consciously sought to maintain economic dominance since the establishment of slavery.
Meet the Most Extreme of the Radical Christians
From the Army of God to the Hutaree Militia to Gary North and his Christian reconstructionists, radical Christianity is alive and well in the United States.
A Trip to the Moon
William Bronk’s Path Among the Forms
There Is Ignorant Silence in the Center of Things
What am I saying? What have I got to say?
As though I knew. But I don’t. I look around
almost in a sort of despair for anything
I know. For anything. Some mislaid bit.
I must have had it somewhere, somewhere here.
Nothing. There is silence here. Were there people, once?
They must have all gone off. No, there are still
people, still a few. But the sound is off.
If we could talk, could hear each other speak
could we piece something, could we learn and teach,
could we know?
Hopeless. Off in the distance, busyness.
Something building or coming down. Cries.
Clamor. Fuss at the edges. What? Here,
at the center — it is the center? — only the sound
of silence, that mocking sound. Awful. Once,
before this, I stood in an actual ruin, a street
no longer a street, in a town no longer a town,
and felt the central, strong suck of it, not
understanding what I felt: the heart of things.
This nothing. This full silence. To not know.
The Music of Thought in the Poetry of George Oppen and William Bronk
William Bronk at PennSound
Vivian Maier’s Self Portraits
The Atlantic DayThe Many Voices of Italian Literature
Translation from the Italian by Peter Robinson
The city arises and sailing off wavers
moved by the breezes. Called from the heights
with no anchorage or weights my senses
no longer gathered but wandering loosed
absolute and alone are lost in the air
and they send home news of terror.
News: while at home every object
rediscovers its drawer, its shelf
I become marginal to myself.
My own matter evaporates.
The dark and dense island reappears to me.
That thick substance, promise of remedy,
let me come in. Bear me to my limit
surround me, mark my edges with caresses,
with the weight of your body give me body.
But it's the remedy produces the pain.
World Literature Today
b. June 27, 1884
One might say that immensity is a philosophical category of daydream. Daydream undoubtedly feeds on all kinds of sights, but through a sort of natural inclination, it contemplates grandeur. And this contemplation produces an attitude that is so special, an inner state that is so unlike any other, that the daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.
Far from the immensities of sea and land, merely through memory, we can recapture, by means of meditation, the resonances of this contemplation of grandeur. But is this really memory? Isn’t imagination alone able to enlarge indefinitely the images of immensity? In point of fact, daydreaming, from the very first second, is an entirely constituted state. We do not see it start, and yet it always starts the same way, that is, it flees the object nearby and right away it is far off, elsewhere, in the space of elsewhere.
When this elsewhere is in natural surroundings, that is, when it is not lodged in the houses of the past, it is immense. And one might say that daydream is original contemplation.
Bachelard's The Poetics of Space
The Poetics of Space
translated by Maria Jolas
The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language and the Cosmos
via riley dog
Jules Boykoff & Kaia Sand
I'd like to make strange the idea of accessibility, brush off its rust, oil the springs, see what else it can mean.
To be accessible is to afford entrance, to make something “capable of being entered or reached; easy of access; such as one can go to, come into the presence of, reach, or lay hold of” (‘Accessibility’ 2009). This description is spatial, as if one is coming upon shelter. How might one create entrance points for a poem so that it might be inhabited in various ways, a small society among the poetic act?
Vivian Maier’s Self Portraits
From “The Poems of Sidney West”
Translation from Spanish by Katherine Hedeen and Vķctor Rodrķguez Nśńez
[final poem] errata
where it says “he escaped from himself as
from a prison cell” (page such and such
it could say “the tiny tree grew and grew”
or some other error
as long as it has rhythm
is certain or true
and so sidney west wrote these lines that
will never love him
in the freshness of a dry dark well
on top of a world blinded by sun
or alone alone alone
where it says “if we were or we were/as
(page such and such verse whatever) it is
as the ox that ploughed there
not rotted by pain or fury
disguising much of the time in solitude
ah sidney west! here ends (hopefully)
your wretched aspimos leanings
what tiny bit round this man
and what animal within
all those birds that knew how to invent ate
ponina and nino especially
greedy from their state and passion
open sweet as useless
where it says “one day the following happened”
(page such and such verse whatever)
sadness had happened by before
and that is fatal for the poet
or it was fatal for west’s pain
b. June 27, 1869
The Emma Goldman Papers
Anarchism and Other Essays
An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earh and Canada.
- Ambrose Bierce (b. June 24, 1842), The Devil's Dictionary
Excerpts from "Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon"Canadian Strange
N a r r a t o r
Consider the unexpected building: a simultaneous world
which even now confronts you with just itself, so indirect,
off the path. You may as well consider the meaning
of air, which remained unnoticed prior to its design
as word. Let us pursue these suggestions: theories
about the concrete, the warmth of snow. A compulsion
for material. Until a narrator profits from such invention,
determines their logic. From consciousness and brute
observation to syntax. Facts are broken as a vase
breaks. A metaphor for this must decide whether
it is the vehicle for the breaking, the vase, or the facts.
So much random space joins the expression you see
outside, where the window tells you that streaks of gold
cannot win against the gray. Something is moving.
Let us call it movement. Call it time. Consider the plane
that conditions the walking, the ground on which we speak,
the motionless graph on which everything depends.
Drunken Boat | 8 | 2006 Edition
Maison Sous les Arbes
b. June 24, 1883
What the enemies of modern art, with a better instinct than its anxious apologists, call its negativity is the epitome of what established culture has repressed and that toward which art is drawn. In its pleasure in the repressed, art at the same time takes into itself the disaster, the principle of repression, rather than merely protesting hopelessly against it. That art enunciates the disaster by identifying with it anticipates its enervation; this, not any photograph of the disaster or false happiness, defines the attitude of authentic contemporary art to a radically darkened objectivity; the sweetness of any other gives itself the lie.Everything or Nothing #3
translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor
Faith, Hope and Impossibility
Adapted from notes for a lecture at the New York Studio School in May 1965.
There are so many things in the world—in the cities—so much to see. Does art need to
represent this variety and contribute to its proliferation? Can art be that free? The
difficulties begin when you understand what it is that the soul will not permit the hand to
To paint is always to start at the beginning again, yet being unable to avoid the familiar
arguments about what you see yourself painting. The canvas you are working on modifies
the previous ones in an unending, baffling chain which never seems to finish. (What a
sympathy is demanded of the viewer! He is asked to “see” the future links.)
For me the most relevant question and perhaps the only one is, “When are you finished?”
When do you stop? Or rather, why stop at all? But you have to rest somewhere. Of course
you can stay on one surface all your life, like Balzac’s Frenhofer. And all your life’s
work can be seen as one picture—but that is merely “true.” There are places where you
Thus it might be argued that when a painting is “finished,” it is a compromise. But the
conditions under which the compromise is made are what matters. Decisions to settle
anywhere are intolerable. But you feel as you go on working that unless painting proves
its right to exist by being critical and self-judging, it has no reason to exist at all—or is
not even possible.
Head and Bottle
I'm not against e-books in principle - I'm tempted by the Kindle - but the more they become interactive and linked, the more they multitask and offer a hundred different functions, the less they will be able to preserve the aspects of the book that we actually need. An e-book reader that does a lot will not, in the end, be a book. The object needs to remain dull so the words - offering you the most electric sensation of all: insight into another person's internal life - can sing.
- Johann Hari
Boy listening to radio set
and reading book
The Accidental Bricoleurs
Facebook and other social-media companies have a similarly parasitic business model. They also appropriate the content and connections we generate as we recreate our identities within their proprietary systems, and then repurpose that data for marketers who hope to sell tokens of that identity back to us. Much as fast-fashion companies are routinely accused of pirating designs, Facebook continually oversteps once sacrosanct norms of privacy, opting users in to data-divulging mechanisms by default and backpedaling only when confronted with public outcry. It offers a space akin to the fast-fashion retailer’s changing room for the ritual staging of the self, inviting users to seize upon “stylistic elements” from wherever they can be grabbed. We become involuntary bricoleurs, scrambling to cobble together an ad hoc identity from whatever memes happen to be relevant at the time.(....)
Social media teach us to seize potential signifiers of the self from any available source and spend our energy promoting them as attention-worthy. In this way, they actually abet and are abetted by the insidious creep of design ideology—the assumption that we can choose a desktop image to express our inner being or that housework will be less like drudgery with a tasteful dustpan and broom set. By coating consumer culture detritus with an aesthetic veneer, design ideology helps makes the idea of a self anchored in fonts and Uniqlo tolerable. Armed with the auric criteria of design, we can regard goods and ads and memes on websites as a rich source of inspiration (“Hey, these old Newport ‘Alive with pleasure!’ T-shirts are neat, think I’ll riff on that logo for my Facebook profile picture!”), not as an inescapable blight.
All Christian-y and bright.
The Candidate Cometh
A hymn for Michele Bachmann from the evangelical right.
By Zina Saunders
Michele Bachmann's Holy War
Fans of obscure 1970s television may remember a short-lived children's show called Far Out Space Nuts, in which a pair of dimwitted NASA repairmen, one of whom is played by Bob (Gilligan) Denver, accidentally send themselves into space by pressing "launch" instead of "lunch" inside a capsule they were fixing at Cape Canaveral. This plot device roughly approximates the political and cultural mechanism that is sending Michele Bachmann hurtling in the direction of the Oval Office.
Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government. She kicked off her unofficial presidential campaign in New Hampshire, by mistakenly declaring it the birthplace of the American Revolution. "It's your state that fired the shot that was heard around the world!" she gushed. "You are the state of Lexington and Concord, you started the battle for liberty right here in your backyard."
I said lunch, not launch! But don't laugh. Don't do it. And don't look her in the eyes; don't let her smile at you. Michele Bachmann, when she turns her head toward the cameras and brandishes her pearls and her ageless, unblemished neckline and her perfect suburban orthodontics in an attempt to reassure the unbeliever of her non-threateningness, is one of the scariest sights in the entire American cultural tableau. She's trying to look like June Cleaver, but she actually looks like the T2 skeleton posing for a passport photo. You will want to laugh, but don't, because the secret of Bachmann's success is that every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger.
Woodcut illustrations by GW Dijsselhof
from 'Kunst en Samenleving'
Evening Will Come
A Monthly Journal of Poetics
Issue 6 | June 2011
Poetry & Politics Roundtable
with Joshua Clover, Chris Nealon, & Juliana Spahr
“The invisibility and intangibility of that which moves us remained an unfathomable mystery”
W. G. Sebald arrives at the above articulation immediately after a description of a stay in hospital, a convalescence of the sort spoken rarely of these days. Indeed it appears now that such convalescences are the stuff of fiction, found only in the novels of Thomas Mann, or perhaps Denton Welch. And it might be true to say that one remaining resort that offers us the thoughtful and reparative time we so much need for convalescence, the time necessary to reflect upon or make meaning of the strange phenomenon of being, is in literature itself. Sebald’s description of his character’s convalescence is itself a metaphorical description of his own practice as a reader and writer, and of the quiet solitary activity that such endeavors require. These moments of reading and writing are at once moments both of the world, but also necessarily removed from the world. His life in the world is the life of a literary observer. His book is littered with stories of similar folk, with those literary-minded figures that are somehow captivated by an activity that attempts to make sense of the world whilst simultaneously forcing their withdrawal from it. It is as if we can only take the time to think of life when we cease to live it.
(The Rings of Saturn, 18-19).
from Meddle English
Small Restaurant, Havana
A Revolutionary Project:
Cuba from Walker Evans to Now
May 17–October 2, 2011
Translation is a form of following
What happens in the space between languages, between minds, between distinct modes or moments of perception, different ways of understanding and articulating those perceptions? What is made possible in the many shifting spaces we inhabit as we move through an exchange or transfer of brain waves, sound waves, ideas carried by breath, without alighting too long in any one particular position?
Words have no home, and it is there our home is located
translated by Jen Hofer
There’s someone else. Smile. There are others of you without you. One who hid in the junctures. Another who’s crying inside ink. Yet another who’s observing you under a microscope. It could be quite a few months. Looks for you in at another’s door and with no manners. Dissects portraits in the carpet. Listens to you breathe. Eye scanning you. Corroded. Saliva from another thirst. Makes each corner into a painful platform. Now your right thumb. One two three for me. We’ll call you. Emerges through the scabs of pronunciation. There’s one that shreds. Improves your versions. Licks your doodles to correct your pulse. Documents. Collates the features in your photos. The dates on your lips. Unearths moles you’d forgotten. Similar. Your name in dark red. Turns secrets into paper embers. Smile. Your sores don’t match. Wait while we clarify that stain on your voice. Two words. Pebbles. It could be quite a few months. Move to line zero. Be the hand that imitates without repeating. Now the left thumb. Find the seven differences without lying. It could be quite a few months. One two three for me and for all my burrs. There’s someone who celebrates your slip-ups. Scrutinizes your trash. Another who breathes you beneath the water of dream. Go over these lines with an oracle’s devotion. Smile. Signature in dark red. Two words that rhyme. Teeming with worms. Behind the caress, please. A halo of larvae over an ancient date. Able to duplicate you. To wait for you to arrive. You won’t take a single step without finding someone. We’ll call you. You won’t know if you’re you.
If Something Black
Alix Cléo Roubaud
Alix Cleo Roubaud
Preface by Jacques Roubaud
Translated by Jan Steyn
Reading Notes (Alix Cleo Roubaud, Alix's Journal)
Alix’s Journal by Alix Cleo Roubaud
Review by Lauren Elkin
Antanas Sutkus _______________________
1 2 3 4
Remembrance as Praxis and the Ethics of the Inter-human
Roger I. Simon, Mario DiPaolantonio and Mark Clamen
What would it mean for one to be 'touched' by the testament of another? To be touched by the memories of others is, at first blush, a phrase that brackets a matter of affect. It is commonly used as a synonym for those occasions when one is 'moved,' when one begins to feel a range of possible psychic states in response to another's story: sorrow, shock, elation, rage. There is obviously some form of human connection referenced here. Most commonly characterized as an empathic response to stories and images of other's plight, this is clearly one trajectory through which an archive of narrative and images might be redeemed from its hellish construction as a set of disconnected fragments. But, there are other, less affect-laden possibilities. If 'being touched' amounts to a negation of the fragmentation and isolation of experiences, then also redemptive is the contiguity and causality supplied by the historiographic impulse that seeks human continuity within historical narratives. Likewise, connectedness of experience is possible in the context of allegorical or emblematic readings wherein one set of experiences is understood through the representation of another. But all these interpretations of the event of 'being touched' limit the force of Berger's observation. Edith Wyschogrod (cited in Jay, 1994: 557) has suggested, 'touch is not a sense at all; it is in fact a metaphor for the impingement of the world as a whole upon subjectivity . . . to touch is to comport oneself not in opposition to the given but in proximity with it.' The proximity she refers to here is not a spatial concept denoting an interval between two points or sectors of space. Not a state, nor repose, but rather it is, as Emmanuel Levinas would have it, a restlessness, a movement toward the other in which one draws closer (Levinas, 1992: 61-97). It is a 'welcome' in which one becomes not just emotionally vulnerable (open to feeling), but where one exposes one's self to a possible de-phasing of the ego wherein the cognitive terms on which one makes connection with others are shaken, put up for revision. Thus, more than being moved or being able to integrate the stories of others into the communally established framework ordering one's grasp of the world (past and present), 'being touched' commands taking the stories of others seriously, accepting such stories as matters of 'counsel.'
In his essay 'The Storyteller,' Walter Benjamin (1968: 86) referred to counsel as, 'less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding.' For Benjamin, in order to seek and receive counsel one would first have to be able to tell this unfolding story. On such terms, for the lives of others to truly matter - beyond what they demand in the way of an immediate, necessary practical solidarity - they must be encountered as counsel. These would be stories that might actually initiate a de-phasing, a potential shifting of our own unfolding stories, particularly in ways that might be unanticipated and not easily accepted. Benjamin was attempting in this essay to reflect on the erosion of the very possibility of the exchange of experience. For him, this was actually being prevented by the proliferation of news reports and mass dissemination of stories and images that accompanied the media meditated transmission of experiences. Benjamin thought the link between memory and experience was being threatened within what he termed a 'phantasmagoric' flow of information that resulted in an age well informed about itself but at the same time knowing very little. Missing was the 'wisdom' of experience, its non-indifference, its transitivity. That is, the possibility that the telling of a story would actually make a difference in the way one's own stories were told, either by opening one's existing narratives to assessment and revision or by influencing one's actions. This inability to 'experience' the transitivity of the stories of others (something other than simply being able to read/hear and recount them) is an historical condition. And it is to the conceptualization of this condition that we now wish to turn.
Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov
Fictionalizing the Sensational Micropolitics of Google's Parisian Love
John A. Sweeney
As such, Google's webgemony portends the advent of info-normativity as a site of micropolitical conflict and resistance, but only if one senses a problem, so to speak. Indeed, Google's myriad products and services appear to make our lives as well as one's work more fluid and seamless, but there resides an implicit suggestion as to what we should do with our free time -- prosume. Consequently, production itself has been overrun by consumption, and Search epitomizes this intrinsic duality at the heart of our all-too-modern world. At the end of the (trading) day, Google's shareholders wait with baited breath in anticipation of lucrative financial returns, which are the result of the corporation's ability to place ads within and on its various products and services, which in turn remain dependent upon the active production of users typing emails, setting dates in calendars, performing searches -- simply going about their daily lives. Capital, as it were, is produced from one's personal circumstances -- from uploading a picture of one's dog to adding a dentist appointment to one's calendar; Google has found a way to monetize the mundane monotony of everyday life -- the ultimate game of power from which one cannot be distracted.
In explicitly concerning itself with the workings of one's somatic positioning as a human, Google participates in what Jacques Rancičre calls the distribution of the sensible -- the creation, partition, and institutionalization of one's sensory or bodily experience. He elucidates, "A distribution of the sensible is a matrix that defines a set of relations between sense and sense: that is, between a form of sensory experience and an interpretation which makes sense of it." Accordingly, Search acts as an agent of sense-making -- an ongoing process that reveals and conceals what can and cannot be seen. Orchestrating a "regime of visibility" that normalizes the disruptive fissures of one's (in)ability to know, the pedagogical and epistemological methodology of Google search might best be described as anti-Socratic since the very process of understanding occurs through a disembodied monologue whose sensibility creates wisdom outside of thyself.
b. June 21, 1905
I live alone, entirely alone. I never speak to anyone, never; I receive nothing, I give nothing… When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell something: the plausible disappears at the same time as the fiends. You let events flow past; suddenly you see people pop up who speak and who go away, you plunge into stories without beginning or end: you make a terrible witness. But in compensation, one misses nothing, no improbability or, story too tall to be believed in cafes.(...)
The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the café, I am the one who is within it.
- Nausea, trans. Lloyd Alexander
Calm and Free
b. June 21, 1882
The Poems Of Alexander Hume
Of the Day Estivall
O perfite light, quhilk schaid away
The darkenes from the light,
And set a rule our the day,
Ane uther our the night;
Thy glorie when the day foorth flies
Mair vively dois appeare
Nor at midday unto our eyes
The shining sun is cleare.
Oure hemisphere is poleist clein
And lightened more and more,
While everie thing be clearely sein
Quhilk seemed dim before.
Except the glistering astres bright,
Which all the night were cleere,
Offusked with a greater light
Na langer dois appeare.
The pastor quits the slouthfull sleepe
And passis forth with speede,
His little camow-nosed sheepe
And rowtting kie to feede.
All trees and simples great and small
That balmie leife do beir,
Nor thay were painted on a wall
Na mair they move or steir.
Calme is the deepe and purpour se,
Yee, smuther nor the sand;
The wals that woltring wont to be
Are stable like the land.
Sa silent is the cessile air
That every cry and call
The hils and dails, and forrest fair,
Againe repeates them all.
(c. 1560 -1609)
“A Bash in the Tunnel”
Flann O’Brien reveals what it was that “stately plump Buck Mulligan” saw in the cracked looking glass of Irish art.
‘I seen meself,’ he said, ‘once upon a time on a three-day bash. The bastards took me out of Liffey Junction down to Hazelhatch. Another crowd shifted me into Harcourt Street yards. I was having a good bash at this time, but I always try to see, for the good of me health, that a bash doesn’t last more than a day and a night. I know it’s night outside when it’s dark. If it’s bright, it’s day. Do you follow me?’
‘I think I do.’
‘Well, I was about on the third bottle when this other shunter crowd come along—it was dark, about eight in the evening—and nothing would do them only bring me into the Liffey Tunnel under the Phoenix Park and park me there. As you know I never use a watch. If it’s bright, it’s day. If it’s dark, it’s night. Here was meself parked in the tunnel, opening bottle after bottle in the dark, thinking the night was a very long one, stuck there, in the tunnel. I was three-quarters way into the jigs when they pulled me out of the tunnel into Kingsbridge. I was in bed for a week. Did you ever in your life hear of a greater crowd of bastards?’
‘That was the first and last time I ever had a bash in the tunnel.’
Funny? But surely there you have the Irish artist? Sitting fully dressed, innerly locked in the toilet of a locked coach where he has no right to be, resentfully drinking somebody else’s whiskey, being whisked hither and thither by anonymous shunters, keeping fastidiously the while on the outer face of his door the simple word, ENGAGED?
I think the image fits Joyce: but particularly in his manifestation of a most Irish characteristic—the transgressor’s resentment with the nongressor.
A friend of mine found himself next door at dinner to a well-known savant who appears in Ulysses. (He shall be nameless, for he still lives.) My friend, making dutiful conversation, made mention of Joyce. The savant said that Ireland was under a deep obligation to the author of Joyce’s Irish Names of Places. My friend lengthily explained that his reference had been to a different Joyce. The savant did not quite understand, but ultimately confessed that he had heard certain rumours about the other man. It seemed that he had written some dirty books, published in Paris.
‘But you are a character in one of them,’ my friend incautiously remarked.
The next two hours, to the neglect of wine and cigars, were occupied with a heated statement by the savant that he was by no means a character in fiction, he was a man, furthermore he was alive and he had published books of his own.
What was really abnormal about Joyce? At Clongowes he had his dose of Jesuit casuistry. Why did he substitute his home-made chaosistry?
It seems to me that Joyce emerges, through curtains of salacity and blasphemy, as a truly fear-shaken Irish Catholic, rebelling not so much against the Church but against its near-schism Irish eccentricities, its pretence that there is only one Commandment, the vulgarity of its edifices, the shallowness and stupidity of many of its ministers. His revolt, noble in itself, carried him away. He could not see the tree for the woods. But I think he meant well. We all do, anyway.
What is Finnegans Wake? A treatise on the incommunicable night-mind? Or merely an example of silence, and punning?
I doubt whether the contents of this issue will get many of us any forrarder.
From The Museum of Eterna’s Novel
translated from the Spanish by Margaret Schwartz
To your health, reader. How sad we are in our books, and how distant. I, the most often mentioned and identified of the unknowns, find myself in a predicament with my Complete Works, to start with, in such a way that the entire future, my whole literary career, will be posterior, in my case, to the aforementioned Complete Works; only because the public has not stopped to wait for me and hasn’t given me the name of a great unknown. So now I am obliged to deserve it, composing myself a past as an author in one fell swoop, so that later I’ll be able to write. This is a new situation in the life of writers, and isn’t it adverse to success?
You who have read me before I began to write, if you have a problem like mine, by now I don’t have it any more. I’ve finished my Complete Works. In my satisfaction, monumentally incapable of understanding difficulty, I can give you a distillation of long experience in art, collected in the present Complete Work.
Let art be limitless and free and all that is intrinsic to it—its handwriting, its titles, the life of its exponents. Tragedy or Humorism or Fantasy should never have to suffer a Past director, nor should they have to copy a Present Reality, and all should incessantly be judged, abolished.
It’s an axiomatic error to define art by copies: I understand life without getting a copy of it first; if copies were necessary, each new situation, each new character that we encountered would be eternally incomprehensible. The effectiveness of the author derives solely from his Invention.
1874 - 1952
Macedonio Fernįndez: The Man Who Invented Borges
The Museum of Eterna's Novel: The First Good Novel
translated by Margaret Schwartz
The self of the city:
Macedonio Fernįndez, the Argentine Avant-Garde, and Modernity in Buenos Aires
Todd S. Garth
b. June 20, 1887
Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau: The Desiring House
“I am a painter and I nail my pictures together.” In a 1924 issue of Merz, entitled G, Schwitters discussed poetry and painting together:
Invisible Culture-An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture
The end pursued by poetry is pursued, logically, by Dadaist painters who, in their pictures, evaluate object against object by sticking or nailing them down side by side. Things may be evaluated in this way rather than they are when signified by words.
Here, the dyadic and vertical relationship between the material signifier and the signified is exchanged for a laterally oriented cutting and dividing of a particular signifying chain in conjunction with equally horizontal and incommensurable chains. In other words, in Schwitter’s system, poetry’s logical conclusion is painting. And, in a step counter to either Modernism or Dadaism, painting’s logical conclusion is the process of assemblage: the cutting, nailing and sticking together of objects. Language (poetry) and matter (the pictorial surface and paint) become mutually interchangeable as though they shared a common denominator otherwise hidden from aesthetic understanding. The specificity or integrity of any one medium is exchanged for the mutable space of production, the production of production itself. Language and materiality meet on another register: an imminent fabric of relations determined by cutting and connecting, production and passage. Each disciplinary practice (painting, poetry, labor) is cut, redirected and woven together along the common circuit of process: the nailing and affixing that cuts a material (including language in its material vocal and textual aggregation) and assure its flow and connection to an other material or language.
A question nevertheless remains. If Schwitters insists on transverse or transfinite connections and interruptions in a field of composition and decomposition, where do Schwitters’ practices meet? How can one, looking back on Merz, trace the generative logic or motivation, the gravity of its build-up of work?
In a short essay entitled “Balance Sheet—Program for Desiring-machines,” (1977), addended to the 1997 French edition of Anti-Oedipe, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari refer to Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, as “the desiring house, the house machine of Kurt Schwitters which sabotages and destroys itself, where its constructions and the beginning of its destruction are indistinguishable.” The word “house” introduces less a sense of architectural structure than of a site of specialized production, a process, indicated by its slippage into the word “machine.” For Deleuze and Guattari, the compositional, anti-structural set of relations, cuts and connections enacted by Merz, constitute it as a desiring-machine. For the field that links objects, materials, and processes is not the coordinates of a coherent structure, but rather the aleatory encounter between materials and processes. The (dis) connective tissue itself, as a set of ruptured and re-connected points of intersection constitute the machinic assemblage. This machine, in turn, produces and is produced by affiliations between scraps and residua, or chance relations between elements that are ultimately distinct. It is “the un-connective connection of autonomous structures…that make it possible to define desiring-machines as the presence of such chance relations within the machine itself.” In other words, the machine is the space of excessive process, the production of production producing normative, hegemonic forms of production differently. I set the “Balance Sheet Program for Desiring Machines” into play throughout the present essay for its singular capacity to describe the Merzbau’s operative mode. It presents a chance to rethink an artist’s project as performance and practice—a set of activities irreducible to any object status answerable to art historical evaluations, which are founded on the seeming stability of the object.
The Merzbook: Kurt Schwitters Poems
... narrative poem loosely based on the life and art of the renowned modern German collage artist, Kurt Schwitters.
The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words
Translated from the Turkish by Cem Yegül
...they were keeping their distance with an animal-like instinct, and they would establish no relationship beyond giggling over the aphorisms I would mumble every now and then. As I was undergoing a distressing period, I was too lazy to get into their kind of clothing and ran around like an unfortunate, lonely wolf among little red riding hoods.
This sense of desertion was the reason why I had written the dictionary The Real Meanings of Some Unappreciated Words. I, who had succeeded in penetrating the heart of the most secretive societies all over the world by impersonating a variety of characters, would never have lived through the night’s experience I’m about to narrate if I had not been pushed to write my dictionary by the obstinacy of the workers at the paper factory. That’s why I’m grateful to my sisters who work at that factory.
Reconstruction Vol. 11, No. 1, 2011
Multilingual Realities in Translation
edited by Angela Flury and Hervé Regnauld
Introduction / Angela Flury and Hervé Regnauld
No theorization, inasmuch as it is produced in a
language, will be able to dominate the Babelian
Jacques Derrida, "Des Tours de Babel"
Quotidian utterances forming multilingual realities really are ubiquitous and common, if often underrepresented in the realm of fiction (the heteroglossic nature of novelistic discourse notwithstanding), and come closest perhaps to what as children we often sense as the meaning of Babel, namely, a fully dramatic, raucous cacophony where any differentiation among intralingual translation (understood as rewording in the same language), intersemiotic translation (for example, on word-picture flashcards so fundamental to learning writing), and translation proper (the translation that, Derrida proposes, needs no translation because “If there is transparency that Babel would not have impaired, this is surely it, the experience of the multiplicity of tongues and the ‘proper’ sense of the word ‘translation’”—174, my italics), is moot. Yet even in all of the noise that the people of Babel at a loss to be understood may produce, there is communication—however discordant—there is ingenuity, resourcefulness, in short, there is translation going on. It is the cacophony, in one’s Sunday school childhood often disparaged as the fitting punishment of God, that must be the basis for thinking of multilingual realities in translation. For cacophony and communication contain each other in the Derridean sense of a Babelian performance. That is to say, no single language exists: languages need to be many in order to exist. What Derrida writes about language is coincident with conceptualization. And the idea of a pure tongue is as tantalizing and empty as that of a pure concept. We need the go between, which for Derrida is designated by the neologism différance, difference as spacing and as temporal deferment. The "go between" is as much defined by empty space as by its idiomatic meaning of someone who facilitates a process by "minding the gap.” _______________________
The tower of Babel exhibits the impossibility of totalizing something on the order of systems. Not surprisingly, visual representations of the Tower of Babel—famously by Pieter Bruegel the Elder—frequently show its precarious architecture, or, as Derrida would have it, “archi-écriture,” with its lack of structural integrity seeming on the verge of collapse. From the beginning, différance is cast in terms of a “puncept” (to use Gregory Ulmer’s neologism) with architecture. Bruegel’s paintings suggest that there is no possibility for anything like a structure to encompass all the languages, and therefore, arguably, there is no foundation for a science of human being, be it called anthropology or by any other name. For if words are like bricks, they fill in spaces, but the spacing of language occurred concurrently with the falling out of bricks, the solid tower of Babel, which always was at its limits, made jagged. Babel signifies the first myth to be deconstructed, namely, the myth of the “meaning.” No such thing may ever be thought of as common in an absolute sense.
Hervé and I much appreciate the range of Babelian performances in the essays that follow.
courtesy of Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking
tr. Harriet Watts
Welcome, 260 thousand cubic centimeters.
And sun eternity glitter stars.
Suffering suffers dew.
Oh, woe you me !
5,000 mark reward !
A crate is crooked, especially your crate.
There is no more property, only communism still
I wilt the reed, for there is no more reed.
I left the clock, for there is no more clock.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, seven.
Sunday greens warmth.
The fat elephant.
In case more than one person should lay claim to the
reward, we shall retain the rights of distribution
admitting of no appeal.
The magistrate of the royal capital and residence.
Dutch Reformed Church
The Low Countries
translated by John Irons
The House at the Lock
Dead lock with a mouth, on its tongue
was a place built to live.
The rim of basalt between water
and earth is no man’s land, the garden
at the square foot of the house
is tied with countless twisting
and stringy toes of trees
and grass. As was always so,
the house is rooted too: a friendly
fort inscribed by time
like a past scratches
itself in the skin
around a mouth. In the trees
the runes of rain and storm; a life
of bending and breaking. Trunks
so not otherwise formed.
Where the path is turned by the lock
the men stand
as in ancient stories, not
in the inert lee of houses
but in wind upon wind and all
that is vast. Their greeting is
a growl, a comma
their rump; arm on arm hunched over
handlebars, they merely peer
with stiff-lipped mouths. As if,
autochthon as the lake, they
have to wonder every evening at
the day: where it has come from
and where it might be going.
Edited by Joris Lenstra
Rosalind Solomon’s Singular Journey
Rosalind Solomon may be one of the most interesting photographers you’ve never heard of._______________________
Hers is a bold, humanistic and highly personal view of the world, deftly executed in square format using black-and-white film.
'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy
Daniel J. Solove
Mute Vol 3 #1 - Double Negative Feedback
‘Double Negative Feedback’ expresses the hope that the chaos unleashed by the cybernetic loops of financialisation, post-Fordist production and networked life might not only be entropic and exploitative. The noise generated by ‘positive feedback’ also takes the form of the explosions we are seeing in the Arab world, the anti-disciplinary uses of cybernetic control systems, the ‘shared precarity’ of compositional improvising, and the ripples of a political organising that no longer assumes a common identity but instead acknowledges our common vulnerability. This issue scouts out such double-negative loops in a landscape dominated by the relentless, if often misfiring attempt to put feedback to work.
translated by Ron Padgett
His head took shelter fearfully beneath the lampshade. It is green and his eyes are red. There is a musician who does not move. He sleeps. His severed hands play the violin to make him forget his poverty.
A stairway that leads nowhere climbs around the house. There are, moreover, neither doors nor windows. You see shadows moving on the roof that rush into the emptiness. They fall one by one and do not kill themselves. They quickly climb the stairs again and start over, eternally charmed by the musician who forever plays the violin with his hands that do not listen.
The Taste of the Real
He walked on one foot without knowing where he would put the other. At the corner the wind swept the dust and his greedy mouth swallowed up all of space.
He started to run, hoping from one moment to the next to fly away, but along the gutter the stones were damp and his arms beating the air couldn't hold him back. In his fall he understood that he was heavier than his dream and he loved, from then on, the weight that had made him fall.
A summer evening’s slight conceptualness
Translated by Herbert Lomas (assisted by Soila Lehtonen)
Ah summer evening, and its eveningness,
its prodigious wonders and their bridgefulness
when the nightunited seamlessness
steals into one’s heart with restfulness
And oh the idler’s idling idleness
and the shuttling rower’s glidingness
on his holiday trip to goal-lessness
the fisherman’s undemanding uncatchingness
the innocent non-offendingness
of the leadhead’s letting-go-ingness.
Summer, great echoing summer’s heatstrokiness,
the haiku-puffs of the sauna’s smokiness, lip-lap
unsteady jettiness, lip-lap, rocking-about-edness
the naked skin’s nothing-about-it-edness
aerial echoing of seagulness
and goodies grilling for forkedness.
Ah gulfiness, lakiness, streaminess
ah featherlight set-free-again-ness
and seismic earth’s ecstatic staticness
and summer calm’s so easy boatliness.
Oh microscopic wormy mouldiness
dandelions’ sunny harvest of goldiness
the headland’s swaying hayfulness
witchgrass’s whimsical playfulness
and sheep-sorrel’s sweet salt-tastiness!
Oh the saliva-licking of all unchasteness
hot musk-orchid’s scented headiness
passion flowers’ glad gift of unsteadiness
and the minty gluiness of sticky lipfulness
yes, and at the edge of happiness, thistliness.
But detail by detail the cosmic interdependenceness
and ref by ref its green inter-referenceness
sing the appendixness of human songfulness
Oh all the heiferiness, humanness, hoveringness
wafting cloud-loftiness, lofty melodiousness —
our heavenly household’s wallhung wise-sayingness —
oh summer cradling us, its total cradlingness.
Health and Pleasure by the Sea
(Kilburn Brothers, Littleton, N.H.)
New York, 19th Century
Through a Glass, Darkly: Photography and Cultural Memory
lf the nineteenth century invented photography, the late-twentieth-century began to disinvent it. We've learned how machines can be made to mimic or replicate human ways of seeing, and with robotic modes of mass production cheap versions of replication devices are available to everyone on earth. It has been a quiet cultural revolution of incalculable consequence. Everywhere you look you see people with these slips of metal and plastic instruments not peering at the world through a view finder but looking for the world at or on the back of the new-style "camera'' (another sly metaphor) with its screen or monitor. The wonder is that people have adjusted to this new phenomenon so easily, as if without a grunt or ripple, perhaps with minor annoyance at the baffling array of choices among digital settings that soon gives way to happy complacence. But think of what happens. lt is as if the world given to the eyesight no longer lies in front of the instrument of seeing but on its backside, already processed into image: a digital version of seeing through a glass, darkly.
The truth is that every photograph or digital image is manipulated, aesthetically and politically, when it is made and when it is distributed, and this is key to how they can be used to subtly influence us. The manipulation is possible because we believe technical images in a way that we do not believe traditional (handmade) images. We believe that technical images have a more direct relation to the real, so our default setting in relation to them is credulity. Seeing is believing. This makes it possible for us to be manipulated and influenced by technical images in a particular way.
Our belief in photographic images is a projection, so it can be influenced in all kinds of ways, from the making of the image within long-established image rhetorics to the way the image is presented and contextualized by accompanying texts. At a time when any photographic image, old or new, can be digitized and altered at will, we should not believe any image that we see in print or online or anywhere else. But we still do, because it is still in our interest to do so. Why? Because we need to believe in this visual connection to the real in order to make sense of what is happening in the world. Belief, or at least the temporary suspension of disbelief, is necessary in order for us to effectively apprehend the world at a distance, through images.
David Levi Strauss
via Jim Johnson
(c. late 1930s) (9 min)
films of Joseph Cornell
made between 1936-1960
The first and greatest American Surrealist, Joseph Cornell is best known for his boxes. The best of his mysterious assemblages of dime-store tchochkes and paper ephemera in little hand-made cabinets perfectly realize the elusive sublime at the heart of Surrealism, while avoiding the juvenile theatrics of his European colleagues.
However, Cornell was also one of the most original and accomplished filmmakers to emerge from the Surrealist movement, and one of the most peculiar. Just as the ascetic and introverted Cornell himself held Surrealism at arms length, borrowing only those elements that suited his interests and temperament, his films superficially resemble those made by other Surrealists, they are in truth sui generis. Only a handful of his contemporaries understood the genius of films like his Rose Hobart — an unfortunate situation exacerbated by Cornell's own obstinate resistance to public screenings. No one made films even remotely similar to Cornell's for almost thirty years, and even now the perfect opacity of his montage remains unrivalled.
- UbuWeb Film
Centuries of June
(made with Stan Brakhage)
Mark Rothko …
The parade of wrongdoers long since gone to their graves
and the streets have been emptied
and their stories have spun out and ended, mostly forgotten,
in the most mundane of ways
over subterfuge, greed, and the attempted usurping of justice.
… and now he sits deeply absorbed in his thoughts
as he’d done many times past, in the colors on colors,
and consumed by his demons
near the Boat Basin Central Park West
when the sky turned overcast with that wintry 4 o’clock hue.
The sun thickly veiled. The few
birds that had landed and then gone to rest.
at the Poetry Foundation_______________________
M. C. Escher
b. June 17, 1898
Some crisis of a ruthless order
Must have driven us all off into our warrens
Of private dilemma and compensation
In subjective device, dressed up as
Lifestyle I don’t doubt given the rue
With which if not to seem even greater
Fools we must look back upon a protracted
Adolescence, squeezed into corner pockets
The knowledge of the subject becomes
Actual just at the moment there’s this
Hollow sound of knocking at the door
Followed by footsteps of some singular
Person withdrawing on his or her own
Into whatever constitutes the future
Centuries of June
Joseph Cornell(made with Stan Brakhage)
translated by John Gregg
b. June 16, 1881
BY LORRIES ALONG SIR JOHN ROGERSON'S QUAY MR BLOOM WALKED soberly, past Windmill lane, Leask's the linseed crusher's, the postal telegraph office. Could have given that address too. And past the sailors' home. He turned from the morning noises of the quayside and walked through Lime street. By Brady's cottages a boy for the skins lolled, his bucket of offal linked, smoking a chewed fagbutt. A smaller girl with scars of eczema on her forehead eyed him, listlessly holding her battered caskhoop. Tell him if he smokes he won't grow. O let him! His life isn't such a bed of roses! Waiting outside pubs to bring da home. Come home to ma, da. Slack hour: won't be many there. He crossed Townsend street, passed the frowning face of Bethel. El, yes: house of: Aleph, Beth. And past Nichols' the undertaker's. At eleven it is. Time enough. Daresay Corny Kelleher bagged that job for O'Neill's. Singing with his eyes shut. Corney. Met her once in the park. In the dark. What a lark. Police tout. Her name and address she then told with my tooraloom tooraloom tay. O, surely he bagged it. Bury him cheap in a whatyoumaycall. With my tooraloom, tooraloom, tooraloom, tooraloom.happy Bloomsday
- Lotus Eaters, Ulysses
After the Flood
From Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminationstranslated by John Ashbery
The caravans left. And the Splendide Hotel was built amid the tangled heap of ice floes and the polar night.
Since then the Moon has heard jackals cheeping in thyme deserts,—and eclogues in wooden shoes grumbling in the orchard. Then, in the budding purple forest, Eucharis told me that spring had come.
—Well up, pond,—Foam, roll on the bridge and above the woods;—black cloths and organs,—lightning and thunder,—rise and roll;—Waters and sorrows, rise and revive the Floods.
For since they subsided,—oh the precious stones shoveled under, and the full-blown flowers!—so boring! and the Queen, the Witch who lights her coals in the clay pot, will never want to tell us what she knows, and which we do not know.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
(6 May 1880 – 15 June 1938)
In Memory of Édouard Glissant
John E. Drabinski
As a person and thinker, Glissant lived through, then reflected with meditative patience and profundity upon some of the most critical years in the black Atlantic: the aesthetics and politics of anti-colonial struggle, the civil rights movement in the United States, postcolonial cultural anxiety and explosion, the vicissitudes of an emerging cultural globalism, and all of the accompanying intellectual movements from surrealism to negritude to existentialism to those varieties of high modernism and postmodernism for which Glissant himself is such a generative, founding resource. His life bears witness to those years, events, and movements with a poet’s word and a philosopher’s eye. And so Glissant, like all important thinkers, leaves for us an enormous gift – in his case, a new, enigmatic vocabulary of and for the Americas.Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy
Vol 19, No 1 (2011)
Forum: Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, Fifty Years Later
The Birth of Venus
Around her is a block. The block is invisible because it is totally transparent. Nor does the block restrict her movements. Is the block what separates Being from Becoming? I don’t know for this is happening where there are no words.
Normally, we face words frontally and so can read them, speak them, or think them. This was happening somewhere to the side of language. Any frontal view of language was impossible there. From the side I could see how language was paper-thin, and all its words were foreshortened to become a single vertical stroke—I—like a single post in a vast landscape.
The task was to dismantle the block—to take it apart, and lift it off piece by piece. She allowed this to happen—No! Active and Passive have merged together—let us say: She happened this to herself with the utmost ease. I was with her in what she (we) were doing.
We began with her head and worked downwards towards the feet. When freed of the block, the part of her body disclosed did not change in appearance. Yet it changed. It disarmed all comment. It precluded any response except that of acceptance. Or, to put it another way: faster than any possible response, the part of her body which was disclosed, claimed its own acceptance.
Although everything was done with ease, the task was tiring, at least for me. Between the removal of each portion of the block, I returned to my own body in my own bed, glad to take a rest for a moment, until the next removal, or the next part of the dream. Was the act of dreaming synonymous with the act of dismantling the block?
I knew all the answers then. Where there are no words, knowledge comes through physical acts and through the space through which those acts are made; by permitting each act the space conferred meaning upon it and no further meaning was necessary.
What Are The United States And Why Are There So Many of Them
(Work in Progress)
Charles Olson’s work not only relates to imperialistic patterns of working through otherness but most importantly his work is guided by what we can say is the basic pragmatic principle—and which also informs most post-modern writing: the transition from indivisible to fragmented time and then from fragmented time into fitting space.
We are shifting from a civilization based on the experience of “History”—a notion mostly naturalized since Hegel—toward a new paradigm, a new way of experiencing and ordering reality—still in the making—in which circular, spiral or linear timeness is no longer the semantic master, the central element that gives order to fragments distributed along its field of influence—the control is now exercised by relational space.
In this model space is the giver of being and sense.
This move away from “History” more or less consists in the dissolution of the linear ordering called “time” in favor of playing with those now loose fragments inside a total space of collected cultural signs, a pantopia.
A pantopia is an imaginary space or archive of persistent ruins and new components that not only constitute a compilation of free parts but most importantly makes possible the construction of a neo-memory—in which lightness-of-being permeates every stratum of reality.
By neo-memory I mean the possibility of remaking the archive into another one, with more or less parts than the last one.
The American dream means the dream of a new memory.
That dream has given rise to the turn from History to pantopia, a total space of remixing everything that used to be chained together. Pantopias are History’s junkyards.
Chestnut Tree in the Moonlight
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Writing the End Times
Lars Iyer video at HowTheLightGetsIn 2011