1899 - 1942
"We have populism because there is no people"
It is difficult to say what the people is, today. The people of turbocapitalism: its social composition, territorial roots, inherited traditions, language, dialect, culture, between megalopoles, medium and small towns, villages and fractions of villages, female difference, here, in this point, at the bottom of the social ladder. Areas of analysis for a future Left. It isn't by browsing the Web that we can touch upon the deepest levels of a distressed human existence. It is not with biopolitics that we can tap into the needs of ordinary people, women and men of flesh and bones, as they say. Recite the mantra: nothing is like it was before, nothing can still be said as it was before. But I do not see any other definition of the people apart from that meaning the lower classes, apart from the eighteenth-century idea of a 'population almost constantly occupied by mechanical, rough and wearisome tasks, and excluded from government and roles in public life'. Are they still in the majority? It depends from what point of view we look at the world: from the West or the East, the North or the South. Here back home, in our little garden, enchanted as it is tattered, the contradiction is an ever-growing one. Whether in time of crisis or with growth, in recent decades the gap between rich and poor has continued to increase. Those who work, are working more and earning less. Those who do not, unable to find work, are sliding down the social scale, with the emergence, for the first time, of this unprecedented type of intellectual sub-proletariat. And also at work is a sort of postmodern proletarianisation of the middle strata. Sociologically speaking, what might be called the people is being reproduced in an extended form. But this quantitative measure is not the decisive consideration. Even if the lower classes were destined to become a numerical minority, it is necessary to take their side.
There is only one way effectively to combat today's populism, so as to defeat its logic – and it is to give political expression to this very thing, the people.
Cabinet No. 48 — Trees
Into the Woods
Over the course of a heroic survey mission of a lone forester, new findings informed new conclusions; these, in turn, enshrined new principles for those engaged with forest growth and management. However, something else also emerged in the process: the figure of the international forest expert, acting as a liaison for governments and authorities while at the same time operating under the disinterested mantle of scientific research.
German forester Dietrich Brandis was the quintessential embodiment of this figure. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, he not only served in some of the most influential positions of forest management around the world, but was also the locus of a dense network of communication between field researchers, colonial bureaucrats, indigenous workers, and forestry students. This intense correspondence circumscribed a migration of ideas, evidence, and knowledge that transformed forestry from a relatively limited engagement with scientific and economic ramifications into a large-scale, global practice that controlled such immense territories that it created wholly new international markets. With that, power became a newly decisive factor in the work of the modern expert forester.
(1824 - 1907)
Illustrations of the forest flora of North-West and Central India
A Test of Poetry
pdf available at aaaaarg (free reg. req.)
... All that seems another edge of history now. But as you read and think of what is to be found here, how it calls to mind insistently a various meaning, how it feels its way, how this manner of saying something may be more direct, perhaps, than that, remember — Oh fathers and teachers! — that this is the same way Zukofsky went, and that this is what he found.
Robert Creeley, from the Forword
The test of poetry is the range of pleasure it affords as sight, sound. and intellection. This is its purpose as art. But readers have rarely been presented with comparative standards to quicken their judgments: "comparative" in the sense that the matter with which poems deal may be compared. To suggest standards is the purpose of this book. By presenting for comparison several translations of the same passage from Homer, an elegy of Ovid and lines from Herrick that read like an adaptation of Ovid, or a fifteenth century poem about a cock and a recent poem about white chickens, and so on, a means for judging the values of poetic writing is established by the examples themselves.
If the poems of Parts I and III, which have been presented anonymously, interest the reader he should be moved to decide for himself their relative merits, without reference to their authorship.
In Part II the poetry has been accredited for the convenience of historical explanation. I have summed up the criticism of this part in a footnote of very few words, in the chronological chart. As I say there, the criticism probes only my own considerations. I believe that desirable teaching assumes intelligence that is free to be attracted from any consideration ,of every day living to always another phase of existence. Poetry, as other object matter, is after all for interested people.
Jindrich Styrsky: Dreams
Glimmers of irreality: the photographs of Jindrich Styrsky
Jindrich Styrsky - I Heard the Secrets in a Kiss_______________________
featured in Tarpaulin Sky V4n2
texts and images by Jindrich Styrsky.
Translated from the Czech by Jed Slast.
Dream of the Marten
In the dream I am walking along a headland. Here the rocks have created an odd sort of pass. I wander until I reach a large modern villa with terrace and gazebo adorned with grapevines. It seemed to me in the moonlight like backstage of the Paris Opera. Wanting to spend the night in the gazebo, I climb over the wall. My drowsing was disturbed by the shutters opening on the first floor, which emitted a light the crown of a lush palm engulfed. A woman leaned out of the window. I couldn’t determine her age as she appeared to me as a silhouette. Her hair struck me as peculiar: it was done up in an outmoded bun. Then I discovered it was white, and as she moved I could see the glitter of pearls sewn onto ribbons plaited into her hair. The lady leaned out the window and quietly called out: “I’ll redeem the box when the night is over.” From the top of the palm above me I suddenly heard a melody that reminded me of an old ditty. When I looked to see who was singing it, I saw a giant orangutan playing a fiddle. He had a ruby red box with an odd handle in the shape of a child’s hand hanging from a strap. On the branch of a tree standing near the palm sat a large horse, its head erect as if an illustration in an old book on natural history, as if fascinated by the singing. It had been flayed, and the skin and hairs on its neck gave way to raw meat, which was larded with bacon fat like a hare ready for roasting.
The Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles
The Bridge at New Hope
John Fulton Folinsbee
b. March 14, 1892
Reflections on Blindly
Blindly is all a monologue, a delirious monologue wherein other voices flow, interweave, override. The speaker is the protagonist, Salvatore Cippico, returned from Goli Otok after a life of struggle and disillusion which has taken him from his native Tasmania (where I imagine he was born, son of emigrants originally from the eastern borders of Italy), to Fascist Italy, the war in Spain, the Resistance, Dachau, Goli Otok, the last voyage to Australia, and the final, definitive return—all through the most desperate adventures. Salvatore is a divided self. The voices that speak are perhaps all his, even those of the doctor and of the multifarious tormentors that have interrogated him throughout his life. He ideally represents the fugitives, the partisans, the illegals, the rebels hidden under so many false names that they sometimes lose their own identity.
I had begun to write a traditional, linear novel. But it didn’t work, even though in part it merged (albeit totally transformed) into the final version. It couldn’t work because in a narrative the “how,” namely the style, the structure, the writing, must correspond—better, must identify—with the “what,” with the event and with its meaning or non meaning. One cannot write with rational order the story of a tragic disorder; the disorder and the tragedy are in the things and in the words.
I was sucked into a creative and critical whirlpool, that great Conradian sea which is the modern, contemporary novel, whose structure derives from the breaking up, the alterating, of the relation between time and history. The labyrinthine search for meaning makes it impossible to find it. The essential point concerns the relationship between the contemporary novel and history, be-tween writing history and writing stories, between narrating reality and inventing it. The problematic relationship between literature and history is very important in the American novel: to give but few examples, “The History as Novel—The Novel as History” in Mailer’s The Armies of the Night, or “History as Fiction, Fiction as History” in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng. All this produces a precarious sense of identity and experience.
The destruction of the linear concept of time, and the eclipse of a central meaning capable of bestowing unity and rationality upon events both individual and collective, have made a violent assault on the way storytelling relates to the meaning of history. A genuine novel of our time cannot recount history if it is not like the nightmare of which Stephen Dedalus spoke, or like the grotesquely contorted series of events, disjointed and irrational, in Grass’s The Tin Drum, fragments scattered in a vortex.
While writing Blindly, I was grappling, on the one hand, with that form of truth which the novel can search for only through distortion, and also with that other form of truth which—in the ethical-political context, for example —can be reached only by trusting that very reason upon which the surging breakers of the epic seem to have dissipated.
The Red Stairway
d. March 14, 1969
David Foster Wallace on Planet Trillaphon
“I’ve been on antidepressants for, what, about a year now, and I suppose I feel as if I’m pretty qualified to tell what they’re like. They’re fine, really, but they’re fine in the same way that, say, living on another planet that was warm and comfortable and had food and fresh water would be fine: it would be fine, but it wouldn’t be good old Earth, obviously. I haven’t been on Earth now for almost a year, because I wasn’t doing very well on Earth. I’ve been doing somewhat better here where I am now, on the planet Trillaphon, which I suppose is good news for everyone involved.”
The repetitions and played-up quaintness here give the sense of a consciousness that has been lulled into congeniality. But as the story unfolds, and the imprecisions come into focus, the narrator comes to see that depression is not “just sort of really intense sadness, like what you feel when your very good dog dies, or when Bambi’s mother gets killed in Bambi”. Rather, it’s a kind of auto-immune deficiency of the self:
“All this business about people committing suicide when they’re ‘severely depressed;’ we say, ‘Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!’ That’s wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts. By the time these people swallow entire medicine cabinets or take naps in the garage or whatever, they’ve already been killing themselves for ever so long. When they ‘commit suicide,’ they’re just being orderly.”
photographs and text by
Lack of everything that’s important. I try to think of the “road.” I can’t. I’m utterly exhausted. I’m only really going because of the weather. The prospect of wind, snow, and my flashes on the beach kept me awake. And also I’m scared of a few days of thinking only about Her, and here I’ll have the Baltic. My Baltic. Instead.
“Swell” is a story of a break-up and of unaccepted loneliness. About going back to the same places and memories that we can’t forget.
The great illusion of the self
As you wake up each morning, hazy and disoriented, you gradually become aware of the rustling of the sheets, sense their texture and squint at the light. One aspect of your self has reassembled: the first-person observer of reality, inhabiting a human body. _______________________
As wakefulness grows, so does your sense of having a past, a personality and motivations. Your self is complete, as both witness of the world and bearer of your consciousness and identity. You.
This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go as far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.
In these articles, discover why "you" aren’t the person you thought you were.
The Production of Subjectivity: Conversations With Michael Hardt
three interviews conducted by Leonard Schwartz
... there’s another way in which language is an excellent example here, which we don’t articulate in that passage and perhaps we don’t articulate this enough in the book (Commonwealth): once we at first celebrate the common in this way, I think it’s also good to recognize that the common is not always a beneficial and positive aspect of life. The common can also be quite negative and destructive. Language is also a realm that has, for quite a long period, carried all sorts of social hierarchies and enforced them. I mean through accents, diction, etc., language has carried with it all kinds of hierarchies that aren’t regulated either by private property or the state, but rather created through different and even previous social forms of domination. I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that even while we are affirming the possibilities of “common” (upholding wealth in common for creating common structures), it’s not as if it’s as simple as, “Making things ‘common’ is the answer.” Rather, I would say that the common is a terrain on which we have to struggle, and that we have to struggle for certain forms of the common and against others. And I think your focusing on “language” is one arena in which we can see that particularly clearly.
Interview projects, talk poetries, embodied inquiry.
Composition for Clarinets and Tin Horn
Whatever happened to welfare?
Betty Reid Mandell
The ghost of Reagan's welfare queen still hovers over conservatives. She is black. She is a large part of Mitt Romney's 47 percent of moochers, and the "takers" that conservatives talk so much about.
Most people don't talk about welfare or know much about it, but conservatives, who also don't know much about it, use it as a threat when they seek reelection or talk about policy. Republicans, and some Democrats, declare that welfare reform was a success because it brought the rolls down and put "free loaders" back to work.
But what really happened to welfare since the welfare "reform" law in 1996 created the TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) program as a block grant to states?
a journal of modern society & culture
2013, vol. 12, no. 1
Whither American Labor?
Forest Brook at Leissingen
b. March 14, 1853
Port of London, Night
(March 13, 1858 – February 6, 1941)
French artist, a painter, engraver, & anarchist
Jorge Luis Borges
I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam...
The Aleph: Infinite Wonder / Infinite Pity
...I saw Luke bring in the box, and at his request I took charge of it. I saw a garda step on a beggar today. What even? I saw Alfred Barton to-day. I saw her tugged down the river by a steamboat, which comes to the same thing, replied he. I saw the idea come suddenly upon you. I saw your smoke, Tom, and guessed that you would be glad of a mug of hot tea. I saw him to-night, about eight--helped him to shut up his shop--and he had got the letters then in his hairy cap. I saw that I should inevitably be his ruin, if I continued in his house; and no persuasions could prevail upon me to prolong my stay. I saw him and Miss Burton emerge from a private parlor last night, and he probably understands Miss Burton's malady better than the rest of us. I saw the figures in that geography.
... an endless stream of descriptive passages pulled from the web. For source texts, I took the complete Project Gutenberg as well as current tweets. I searched for the phrase "I saw."
The title of the piece is a reference to the narrator's summing up of the vast whirring world he's seen, one of "infinite wonder and infinite pity".
The sandvik fjord
Hans Fredrik Gude
b. March 13, 1825
The New Gilded Age and Neoliberalism’s Theater of Cruelty
What is often ignored by many theorists who analyze the rise of neoliberalism in the United States is that it is not only a system of economic power relations, but also a political project of governing and persuasion intent on producing new forms of subjectivity and particular modes of conduct. In addressing the absence of what can be termed the cultural politics and public pedagogy of neoliberalism, I want to begin with a theoretical insight provided by the British media theorist, Nick Couldry, who insists that “every system of cruelty requires its own theatre,” one that draws upon the rituals of everyday life in order to legitimate its norms, values, institutions, and social practices. Neoliberalism represents one such a system of cruelty, one that is reproduced daily through a regime of commonsense and a narrow notion of political rationality that “reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to educational policy to practices of empire.”
What is new about neoliberalism in a post-9/11 world is that it has become normalized, serving as a powerful pedagogical force that shapes our lives, memories, and daily experiences, while attempting to erase everything critical and emancipatory about history, justice, solidarity, freedom, and the meaning of democracy.
Corporations and the Richest Americans Viscerally Oppose Common Good
Chomsky: The Corporate Assault on Public Education
via Joerg Colberg
“…flora and fauna could be read again and again, not only alone but in combination, in the endlessly shifting combinations of a nature that tells its own stories and colors ours, a nature we are losing without knowing even the extent of that loss.”
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
The keys to my first car were a means of escape. I was free to drive to the ends of the earth, to be alone in nature. This need to be isolated seemed a primal instinct. Since my late teens, I have been taking solitary road trips, seeking to lose myself along back roads, and finding comfort in the vastness of my natural surroundings. “It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable, experience to be lost in the woods any time,” wrote Thoreau, “…and not till we are completely lost, or turned round, – for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost, – do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature.”
- artist's statement
Poetry is Risk: A Performance
Augusto de Campos and Cid Campos
... a magical and restorative night of visual poetry spanning the career of one of the genre's greatest innovators. Throughout De Campos’s long career working within the expanded territory of poetry, he has used sound and image to activate associative thinking and explore the possibilities of language.
The poet dealt sensitively with the issue of translation, a process he refers to as re-criaēćo (re-creation), by carefully overlaying his spoken English performance with gentle melodies provided by Cid Campos in the original Portuguese and projections of his poems. Aged 83, he also stunned the audience with a one-breath reading of his poem cidade/city/cité and a bossa nova rendition of "Our Share of the Night to Bear", a "lyrical jewel" by Emily Dickinson.
— Zanna Gilbert
... a site for encounters between the established and experimental, the historical and emerging, the local and global, the scholarly and artistic. An online journal, archive, exhibition space, and open forum that takes advantage of the nonhierarchical nature of the Internet, post seeks to spark in-depth explorations of the ways in which modernism is being redefined. The site's contents are intended to build nuanced understandings of the histories that shape the practices of artists and institutions today. As a networked platform, post aims to provide an alternative to the model of a unified art historical narrative.
b. March 13, 1870
There’s Only Bricolage
There’s only bricolage. This is attested to in all dimensions of nature. The species that manage to survive are products worthy of Frankenstein, cobbled together on the platforms of previous species, as well as sequences of DNA that were exchanged from species to species by viruses. Their parts never quite work together as we can see in the case of human child birth and the appendix. The grape of the wine is a product not simply of DNA or a master-plan, but of other plants growing in the environment, weather conditions, soil nutrients, water contents, insects, and so on. Grape genes of identical genetic stock nonetheless differ significantly from one another from year to year. The brain is a plastic system with neurons that link to one another as a function of thought, experience, encounters, nutrients, and many other things besides.
Why should thought and theory be any different? Your fidelity to a particular thinker as a scholar, your commentary and scholarship? That was the result of countless encounters you had with the work of other thinkers and scholars, your experiences, snippets of things you heard and saw, a text here and there, and so on. You thought you were getting at the truth of Heidegger? Maybe. It’s more likely that you cobbled together odds and ends in your garage as a result of what was available. Your deductive rigor from a single premise according to the laws of logic? The same. You were just Frankenstein sewing together parts of bodies in your lab. That work that describes itself as “rigorous” is not the absence of the sloppiness of the bricoleuer, but rather a failure to recognize the soil within which it grew. It is the grape that says “I, an I alone, in contrast to all other grapes, am the grape that completely grew and defined myself!”
But this is always a lie, even for the mathematician. There’s always an aleatory multiplicity that rumbles beneath any Apollinian order. There is no being, no thought, no theory that isn’t cobbled together from the materials one finds in her garage
Still Booking On De Quincey’s Mail-Coach
Robin Jarvis looks at Thomas de Quincey’s essay “The English Mail-Coach, or the Glory of Motion” and how its meditation on technology and society is just as relevant today as when first published in 1849.
Usines prčs de Charleroi
The vertigo of scepticism
Introduction to a conversation with Nancy Bauer
At the heart of the thought of American philosopher Nancy Bauer is the troubled relationship between philosophy and feminism. Put differently, Bauer is interested in exploring the possibilities for a genuinely philosophical feminism, while at the same time aiming at paving the way for a feminist critique of the philosophical tradition that is transformative, rather than dismissive, of the intellectual discipline as such. Instead of simply arguing in favour of feminist philosophy, where the issue of the value of feminism for philosophy and vice versa is settled in advance, Bauer works on the borders of feminism and philosophy, where difficulties in bringing the two enterprises together abound, but great intellectual rewards await in the case of success.
from Index of Placebo Effects
hospital window, view through
Trees shudder, thorned at the root by the rut of the river. You overlook groves looking up. Across the hall in Hospital Town, a man in a gown stares down at brick. His eyebright's plastic, posed askance in fluted glass. Ersatz pollen lures invisible bees. You'll get well faster because of what you see: criminals and geese among the restless trees. Everywhere, fever. Press your palm to disease. How we light sirens to worship the dark. Your twin eyeballs asphalt and shadows the nurse. You'll go home first, mended by fir.
Carol Guess blogs at Syntax Is A Second Skin
1933 - 2000
A Williams soundscript
Listening to ‘The Sea-Elephant’
It takes only the briefest introspection to be reminded of the foundational difference between listening to a poem and reading it. To bracket the complexities memory would bring in, let’s make it a poem read or heard for the first time. I will bypass the complexities of neurological processing and speculations about the tangled relations of sight and sound. I am concerned here with the middle ground of human perception.
Reading is voluntary, whereas with listening there’s a basic passivity. While I can listen carelessly or even with hostility and thus I have some control over how the sense is being made, nevertheless, this control is secondary: the speaker’s words, affect, timbre, timing, volume, pitch-contour, and intonation are inescapably primary physical facts. But with reading nothing happens unless my eyes activate the poem, and any instant that desire flags, reading ceases. On a bad day, with a poem I’m not interested in, my reading-motor may stop every few seconds. It’s not exemplary behavior, I grant. But whether it stutters or not, reading provides a more capacious temporal vantage than listening. While construing the clumps of letters at the focal center (i.e., reading words), my eyes simultaneously receive a sense of the words and spaces on the rest of the page or screen. It’s an unfocused sense, but it means that in a bare way to read is to see a bit into the near future (and, symmetrically, the near past). When listening I’m more confined to the present, though there is some sense that holds the sound from the near past together while syntax and semantics are being construed. (Again, I’m ignoring the case of re-hearing a piece where I can sense a future vantage as I anticipate certain passages I know will be arriving next.)
Beyond such simple facts of sensory processing, in my experience there’s been a most basic difference: my emotional set toward what I read is critical, hard to please, while much of what I hear I tend to like or accept. Am I home to two distinct sensory beings? Or does reading push in the direction of privacy (autonomy, solipsism) while listening is irreducibly social?
It’s tempting to dramatize this difference.
b. March 12, 1915
Micro Units and the Macro Scale
(....)Amodern 1: The Future of the Scholarly Journal
Cynicism aside, the possibilities are rapidly becoming probabilities with every sign that we will soon be tracking the memes and tropes of individual authors through some combination of attribute tags, link-back trails, and other identifiers that let can generate quantitative data and map a scholar’s active life.
... the notion of the author attribute raises some other interesting possibilities, for the task of writing might come to be attached to the act of creating metadata as well as prose discourse, or to shaping a content model, a schema in XML, or a database structure. These are formats just beyond the pale of the academic purview. We can more easily imagine a tweet-assessor counting up entries in some bizarre balance sheet than we can the mavens of a home department calculating the efficacy of a mark-up scheme. The concept of progressive bibliography, or extensible cataloguing, in which authored contributions assist readers in the location and use of materials, is based on a platform that would enable successive entries over time. Such an approach recognized the shifting nature of an object under inquiry – no book is just a static object, its identity changes through the faceted perspectives of readers and uses, new interpretations, whether these are grounded in new bits of knowledge about the work or a rethinking of its arguments within a long history or a new frame.
is a peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journal devoted to the study of media, culture, and poetics.
Literary Magazines Adapt to the Digital Age
Publishers Weekly profile of Jacket2, Octopus, N+1 and others.
Twiggy in the bracken
Stephen Harper's Disturbing Lack of Faith in Science
The battle between science and religion is mostly an illusion. With the exception of certain outliers—like Galileo and Popes Paul V and Urban VIII, evolution and Arkansas and Mississippi—there’s usually a modicum of mutual respect, or at least tolerance._______________________
Unfortunately, it seems the current Canadian government may be one of those outliers.
If you see the government as an organic whole, which in the case of Stephen Harper’s micromanaging approach to governance we should, it can be useful to relate what happens in the various ministries and departments. Like the way science is treated at the environment ministry in Gatineau and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Kent Street, and the way religion is seen over in the Pearson building.
You could call it irony—silencing scientists while increasing your commitment to religious freedom—if it weren’t so fundamentally nefarious.
Freedom of scientific speech is clear, unambiguous. Scientists research, theorize, reach conclusions that are always tentative, and by reporting their findings, invite disputation. Of course there are egos involved, there are certainly ethical issues related to research methods, and individual scientists can be duplicitous, unethical, or simply stupid. But science itself is neutral.
But re-committing to a value no one was questioning, while walking quickly backwards from one nobody ever suspected would be in danger, is anything but neutral. It’s a declaration of principles.
Part I: Abroad
Part II: At Home
Stephen Harper’s war on transparency
Toronto Star Editorial
March 12, 1912 – January 4, 2006
Poet: Irving Layton Observed
directed by Donald Winkler
A Wild Peculiar Joy: The Selected Poems
1899 – 1998
1 2 3 4
Chance Is a Good Librarian
an interview with Alberto Manguel
With over 35,000 volumes in your library and a lifetime of close reading, how do you document your responses to what you’re currently reading? In other words, how do you keep track of those copious conversations and record the connections you make while reading?
I don’t. Chance is a good librarian and the encounters she allows don’t follow any pre-conceived order or method. So it happens that, through my wanderings in the library, I remember some encounters and forget others, much as happens in my meetings with people. And the connections between these encounters weave and interweave, and form patterns that I can’t fully see or be conscious of. But they are there. So when a subject comes up in my mind, some of these interweavings, a few of these meeting-places are brought to mind, and then the subject is illuminated by the memory. Unfortunately, as I grow older, the memories are fewer and far between.
a new magazine at the intersection of content strategy, online publishing, and new-school editorial work.
The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (2 Vols)
Across the Border:
Peter Handke’s Repetition [pdf]
W. G. Sebald
In Repetition, Handke allows the peculiar light which illuminates the space under a leafy canopy or a tent canvas to glisten between words, placed here with astounding caution and precision; in doing so, he succeeds in making the text into a sort of refuge amid the arid lands which, even in the culture industry, grow larger day by day. The book of the journey through the Karst, over which the infamous bora wind blows, resembles thus the dolinas: sink- holes which lie beneath the wind, islands of stillness, surrounded by trees, all bent at the same angle, where, as the narrator reports, the stubbly grass hardly trembles, bean or potato plants hardly sway, and on whose ground therefore, ‘without fear of one another, the beasts of the Karst could assemble, a stocky little roe deer along with a hare and a herd of wild pigs.’ To this image of peaceable unity, animated by reference to the ark, is inscribed the hope that, despite prevalent unfavourable conditions, some- thing of our natural homeland may yet be saved.
via Stephen Mitchelmore
plants in a gutter
A Page on Br’er Rabbit, Permitting Shame, Error and Guilt, Myself the Single Source
Br’er was a trouble word in early 1980s North Carolina, for a working-class white boy who knew from picture books what rabbits and foxes and bears were, who knew too that “brother” was a nonfamilial term belonging to male junior members not yet “elder” in the church, but who had problems pronouncing his r’s, even the antagonizing ones in his own name and home, Brian Overby of Rural Hall. I troubled, too, over what the word indicated and how it functioned, since it was suggestive of a name and thereby in a different category, I had imputed, from words with meanings you could ask for, but had none of the singularity of a name—like Friar Tuck—specific to one person alone; it was given to Rabbit and Fox and Bear alike. If it was a rank, like deputy, then it begged more questions, as to why Br’er Bear or Br’er Fox had license to discipline Br’er Rabbit in the stories. Br’er was a word I grouped by appearance and sound with ne’er and where’er from the Old School Hymnal we sang from in church and it shared therefore a whiff of vinegary bygones and preternatural power I had learned (by transgressing the sacrosanct) to leave be. If pressed, I might have estimated that “br’er” was an alternate presentation of the briars Rabbit made his home, but I also suspected it indicated a special kind (that is, qualitatively different from the familiar species) of rabbit, bear, and fox, an inversion somehow of those creatures—like werewolves.
Ilse Bing: Queen of the Leica
collected by John Latta
A broken mirror nailed up over a chipped enamel basin, whose turgid waters
Reflect the fly-specked calendar—with ecstatic Dutch girl clasping tulips—
On the far wall. Hanging from one nail, an old velvet hat with a tattered bit
of veiling—last remnant of former finery.
The bed well made. The whole place scrupulously clean, but cold and damp.
All this, wedged into a pyramidal ray of light, is my own invention.
—John Ashbery, out of “The Skaters” (Rivers and Mountains, 1966)
Thing is to find something simple
As for example Pa Stadtvolk;
Hooks to hang gutters on roofs,
A spike and half-circle, patented ’em and then made ’em;
Worth a good million, not a book in the place;
Got a horse about twenty years after, seen him
Of a Saturday afternoon
When they’d taken down an old fence,
Ole Pa out there knockin the nails out
(To save ’em). I hear he smoked good cigars.
—Ezra Pound, out of “Canto XXVIII” (A Draft of XXX Cantos, 1930)
The self, Hugo said, is the body. Our knowledge of what’s other is a knowledge of our body. My seeing a Monet is a knowledge of my own eye, which is both an obstruction between me and the Monet and the medium by which I see it at all. If my eye is healthy and keen I can forget it. We do not watch our hand, nor yet the hammer, when driving a nail. We watch the nail. Reading, we see Robinson Crusoe with his parrot on his shoulder, yellow sands, green ocean, three goats on a knoll.
—Guy Davenport, out of “Wo es war, soll ich werden”
(The Drummer of the Eleventh North Devonshire Fusiliers, 1990)
Melancholy and The Infinite Sadness
Affect theory takes on sadness, but is just getting through depression good enough?
In Ann Cvetkovich’s new “critical memoir,” Depression: A Public Feeling, the University of Texas professor seeks to “defamiliarize” depression within a genealogy of spiritual despair, while attending to the relationship of the psyche to the soma as illustrated by how different cultures or the working class are more likely to somatize their depression. Can we, Cvetkovich asks at the book’s beginning, engage with depression as the “product of a sick culture”? The subhead of the book—“A public feeling”—points to the author’s intellectual alignment with such groups as Lauren Berlant’s Feel Tank Chicago, and Cvetkovich’s originary situation of depression as public and political, a loss of hope. In the richest part of the book, Cvetkovich traces this apathy to the medieval concept of “acedia,” or the spiritual crisis experienced by desert monks, which she first encountered in Andrew Solomon’s bestselling depression memoir The Noonday Demon. The fourth-century monk agitating to leave his cell mirrors, for Cvetkovich, both the experiences of the activist suffering from “left melancholy,” as well as the emptiness and restlessness of the quotidian that characterizes depression. In Depression, she situates her subject, both its malady and its cure, in the domestic, in the space of the day._______________________
Cvetkovich’s work on political depression comes out of the cultural studies subfield known as affect theory, of which groups like Feel Tank Chicago are a part, which attempts to bring private feelings back into the public sphere. Many affect theorists are elegant essayists who interweave personal narratives within searing cultural critiques — like Kathleen Stewart’s fragmented Ordinary Affects, the meditations of Eve Sedgwick, or Lauren Berlant’s essays on national sentimentality (as well as her blog Supervalent Thought, with its inquiry into the intimate and everyday life). Cvetkovich’s Depression can also be read alongside other recent works that seek to interrogate or reclaim so-called bad feelings, like failure (Jack Halberstam), shame (Eve Sedgwick), sadness (Sara Ahmed), and humiliation (Wayne Koestenbaum).
b. March 8, 1945
five prose pieces from Sea Lyrics, 1996
I am the waterfront and I cover the waterfront and all the boats all know me, I am the foreignest of birds and the shadows of sails upon martinis, I am underwater buying jam and drinking stolen coffee, I am pelagic now and sober, having recently discovered all the birds.
I won’t go to the waterfront anymore, I am basking on a beach far from the army, I am pointing to a thousand speckled birds, I am watching the salads roll down to the shore, I am on the grounds of Mission High School with the murderers, I am near the edge of all the bungalows, I am reaching toward the pineapples to reach, I am dreaming the dreams I hardly know and know I have tattoos, I am in the ambulance at dawn, I am in this town beneath where you have jumped from bridges row by row, from the midtown light, I am in the dreams Lucretius, I have helped you to assemble all the mammals on the lawn.
at the Poetry Foundation
Some notes on Lisa Jarnot's 'Sea Lyrics'
Who was it that said the coast is but a line? In responses to “Sea Lyrics,” there seems to be much fixation on Jarnot’s “I,” as David Kaufmann writes in “Repetition, Noise and Pleasure, or Why I like John Yau and Lisa Jarnot,” that “Sea Lyrics plays with the words that people use to make up identities. It shows how identities are fabricated at the same time that it renders that process of linguistic self-creation rather comic, in that it is susceptible to grammatical fun, if not absurdity.” Earlier on in the same essay, Kaufmann goes further, specifically targeting the “I”:
What saves this from being oppressively narcissistic is the equally obvious point that these pieces are not biographical in any conventional way (“I am underwater buying jam”). The identities of this “I” range from the whimsical (“I am all the hot dogs and the roof of city hall”) to the almost incomprehensible (“I am of the new year sober now”). What is more, this poem can in no way be construed as a report on the whereabouts of its supposed speaker. Unlike the artist in “830 Fireplace Road,” Jarnot’s “I” is here, there and everywhere and all at once.
Why is there such a fixation on her narrative “I”? It nearly distracts from what else the poem is doing.
Part of the wit of this series lies in the way it plays the verb “to be” (I am) off the present continuous (I am writing, I am dancing, etc). It shows quite clearly how the same words can have quite different uses, at the same time that it raises the question of the relation between identity (I am) and action (I am doing). To what extent, then, is the poem actually about the bits of language it puts into action?
Cape Breton Island
The Public Domain Review
a project of
The Open Knowledge Foundation
Me and my shadow
Translated by Ruth Urbom
The fog banks have dissipated; the sky is empty. I cannot see the sails or swells in its heights, nor the golden cathedrals or teetering towers. I would not have believed I could miss a fog bank, but that’s exactly what it’s like: its disappearance is making me uneasy. For all its flimsiness and perforations it was our protection, our shield against the sun’s fire and the stars’ stings. Now the relentlessly blazing sun has awakened colours and extracted shadows from their hiding places. The moist warmth has dried into heat and the Flower Seller’s herb spirals have dried up into skeletons. The leaves on the trees are full of bronze, sickly red and black spots. Though there is no wind and autumn is not yet here, they come loose as if of their own volition, as if they wanted to die.
This morning, as I was strolling up and down the park path as usual, I saw another shadow alongside my own.
– Ah, you’re back! I said. – I wondered what had happened to you after you lost your shadow; how did you manage to change into your own shadow yourself?
Charles Elliott reviews The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome by Gordon Campbell
It seems safe to say, as Campbell does, that there has never been a book devoted to garden hermits. This is possibly because in more enlightened times it is difficult to credit any serious landowner with hiring a malodorous ancient to squat permanently in a hut just beyond the shrub border. Yet gardeners have been prepared to decorate their demesnes with some very strange things over the centuries, from hubcaps to topiary pigs. A hermitage, even a hermit, seems relatively acceptable. The Hermit in the Garden attempts to explain why.
d. March 8, 2009
Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?
There have been serious debates over the years about whether capitalism is compatible with democracy. If we keep to really existing capitalist democracy - RECD for short - the question is effectively answered: They are radically incompatible.
It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive RECD and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. But could functioning democracy make a difference?
What is to be done with the actually existing Marxist left?
An interview with Jodi Dean
Communism without Marxism can become weird primitivism. Some of the anarchist approaches to sustainability seem to have in mind something positively prehistoric in their rejection of anything that could be a city—even medieval cities, which didn’t require everyone to live in a subsistence mode of existence. Marxism recognizes that important things happened with industrialization, and communism comes out of—or has to be dragged out of—a particular kind of capitalist development.
Jodi blogs at I cite
Theo Van Doesberg
d. March 7, 1931
Brod insults Brod
Enrique Vila-Matas's El Paķs review of Lars Iyer's Magma (published in English as Spurious)
translated by Daniel Rivas
Often, the voices become confused. “We are both Brod, and neither of us is Kafka. This is the end of the world, but who knows it except us?”. Lars Iyer describes a drifting literary world, where one can only cling to the assurance that the circumstances no longer exist in which arose those vanguardists of yesteryear: the necessary conditions, linked to ambitious modernism, have disappeared, and with them the entire dream of great literature. He suggests there is a need to remain in touch with that missing link of modernism, but at the same time tells of the impossibility of doing so.
All this, which could be immensely negative, winds up being very creative. “Without a link to modernism, there is no future. Without recognising that a link to modernism is totally impossible, there is no future. Without recognising that there is no future, there is no future”, says the other Lars Iyer, for whom the only people with horizons are those whose discourse incorporates a consciousness of the end of the road. Limbo awaits for the rest. Iyer translates into outrageous prose his theory that the real problem is not the impossibility of writing (more typical of the ’40s), but the impossibility of experiencing the impossibility of writing. The environment of the old literary order is missing, and this means that Brod’s insult-sprees aimed at Brod exist in an exasperated but creative atmosphere: one of laughter in the face of great mourning for all that is lost.
It is a novel in which we attend the penultimate funeral for the disappearance of our intellectuals. “We are lost in Europe, two monkeys, two idiots, although one is infinitely more of an imbecile than the other”. It’s terrifying, but Lars and W. not only have no audience: they don’t even have anyone to tell them about the train on which they’re travelling. The two shine a spotlight on themselves in one of the wagons, advancing through a nocturnal Europe in a fog of gin, as they desperately ask what their place in the world is. I am minded to say: they have none.
Autumn Here is Magical and Vast
Translated from Arabic by Stephen Watts
A bloody shaft of light
shone under our door between their compass & the north star
so the road passed through our house out toward the estuary.
Its stones are our tears which silted in our chests until we spat them out.
The road smashed the Janus-faced mirror & flasks of the perfumers
and left us nothing but the clouds to dwell in
with our mouths, as our pockets, stuffed with sand.
Rains taught him how he’d evaporate from the earth’s body.
The cat taught him how to sleep in the shadows of roses.
The well led him to concealment.
The leaves are going yellow, shouting, whirling about,
so he listens to the pulse of the tree.
The world is tearing through
tatters fluttering like banners in the amphitheater
where madmen swam in our wounds pleading they’d not heal
nothing will stop all this blood but the sun & the wind.
Our dreams remember our dreams.
A Note on Syrian Poetry Today
The poems presented here are trying to ask, piling up questions. The poets, albeit separated by geographical distance, are similarly preoccupied with the reaffirmation of life. Sometimes they are haunted by the same old question of the complex relation between ethics and aesthetics that has always tormented writers. Poems at the moment, to our astonishment, are increasingly inclined to avoid an apocalyptic view of the world, and are written about almost everything. From experimental prose poems to lyrical traditional ones, different kinds of poetry, written in Arabic, in Kurdish, or another language of this multicultural country, counterpoint each other. It's again a question of seeing what's always been there in front of our faces, shadowed by fears and love. There is probably a poem being written somewhere in Syria at this moment, another tiny part of what we do not yet know.
Kleine Dadasoirée Haagsche K.K. [proof].
December 1922 - 10 January 1923
Theo van Doesburg
To Foucault, this is real power: the plague moment is one in which the political apparatus achieves its fullest expression. It does so through ever-expanding knowledge, and the purpose of that knowledge – which is itself not held in secret, since plague deaths are announced on a daily basis – is the further elaboration of the means of control. There is no orgy of violence or social breakdown: the plague town model also introduces the essential concept that this is all performed on the populace for its own good. All of Foucault’s subsequent models of power rely on this kind of efficiency. As technologies of surveillance and discipline become more pervasive and efficient – as norms of behavior become more established – the population does most of the work itself. Power finds itself ever more easily creating the conditions of its own further reinvestment. Hence these technologies become ever more subtle.
This is quite different from the Panopticon, which is not just a technology but also an architecture specifically designed for surveillance. Those who find themselves in the Panopticon or another such facility also already know themselves to be prisoners. Put another way, they are brought specifically to the Panopticon because they are prisoners who require exactly that kind of surveillance. What is fascinating about the plague town is the way the urban form is recruited into this discourse in an exceptionally ‘soft’ way. The means of surveillance and control are brought to the population and installed in a thorough and complete way. In terms of urban form, nothing has been changed. To use a contemporary metaphor, the town has been rebooted with a new operating system.
Perhaps it is better (...) to consider another depiction of plague. Writing almost 30 years before Foucault, his countryman Albert Camus wove a portrait of a town buckling under not just the plague, but also administrative actions eerily similar to the ones Foucault describes. What distinguishes Camus’ admittedly novelistic account is the presence of order, but also of strife, of humor, and doubt, and passion. Despite his passion for the maltreated, it is difficult to conceive of Foucault accepting the possibility of redemption in quite this way:
From the dark harbor soared the first rocket of the firework display organized by the municipality, and the town acclaimed it with a long-drawn sigh of delight. Cottard, Tarrou, the men and the woman Rieux had loved and lost, all alike, dead or guilty, were forgotten. Yes, the old fellow had been right; these people were "just the same as ever." But this was at once their strength and their innocence, and it was on this level, beyond all grief, that Rieux could feel himself at one with them. And it was in the midst of shouts rolling against the terrace wall in massive waves that waxed in volume and duration, while cataracts of colored fire fell thicker through the darkness, that Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.
Planners: Happy Day
d. March 7, 1957
The ‘International Turn’ In Intellectual History
The field is rife with spatial metaphors – of ideas as “migratory” and of books escaping the bounds of nations; of “horizons” of understanding and the public sphere; of “localism” and “provincialism” as adjectives for ideas; and of conceptions of “containment” and critical “movement” in the reading and interpretation of texts. Yet such figures of speech do not necessarily indicate any substantive engagement with questions of space and place. Instead, they are a shorthand indication that ideas lack material locations – that they need to be placed into contexts construed almost entirely as temporal and linguistic, not physical or spatial. Michel Foucault might have been speaking for intellectual historians specifically (rather than all historians more broadly) when he declared, “space was that which was dead, fixed, non dialectical, immobile. On the other hand, time was rich, fertile, vibrant, dialectical.”
Space can be understood intensively as well as extensively. In this regard, historians of science may have much to teach both international relations scholars and intellectual historians. A ‘spatial turn’ in the history of science put in doubt the universality of truth and insisted upon local knowledge: there could be no view from nowhere when every view sprang from somewhere. Ideas emerged from tightly defined spaces – from picturesque beaches as well as laboratory benches, and from public drinking-houses as well as royal academies. When viewed microscopically in this way, the seamless web of abstract knowledge turned out to be a brittle mosaic of contingent concerns. If one aim of this literature was to debunk the presumed universality of scientific reason, another was to show just how fragments of knowledge were accumulated and collected, and how their credibility was secured.
Theo Van Doesberg
for Lee Hickman
The single fact is matter.
Five words can say only.
Black sky at night, reasonably.
I am, the irrational residue.
Blown up chain link fence.
Next morning stronger than ever.
Midnight the pain is almost.
The train seems practically expressive.
A story familiar as a.
Society has broken into bands.
The nineteenth century was sure.
Characters in the withering capital.
The heroic figure straddled the.
The clouds enveloped the tallest.
Tens of thousands of drops.
The monster struggled with Milton.
Pablo Pińero Stillmann
Also Known As Rumination.Bodega - March 2013
As much as it might seem incredible to someone like you or I, happiness, wait, Happiness, hasn’t always had a positive connotation for everyone. This will be easier to accept if you consider that no one thing has been anything, always, for everyone. Most things have been many things for at least some people. Nothing has at times meant Everything and at others meant Some Things. For long stretches of time Nothing actually meant nothing. But I must stop myself because I have the tendency to spin uncontrollably into spirals of confusion and—sometimes—complete nonsense.
The Gray Tree
b. March 7, 1872
The Violences of Knowledge:Edward Said, Sociology, and Post-Orientalist Reflexivity
Jeffrey Guhin and Jonathan Wyrtzen
Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and me
(March 6, 1910 – May 1, 2004)
Daytime never ends (PoemTalk #63)
Laynie Browne, "Daily Sonnets"
poems discussed [pdf]
Death of a Sailor:
A Novel History of Murder in 1830s New York, War and Forbidden Love in the Age of Napoleon, and Captivity and Freedom in the Last Days of the Atlantic Slave Trade; in many, many Parts.
“Identity?” said Jack, comfortably pouring out more coffee. “Is not identity something you are born with?”
PART I: The Murderer and the Journalist
“The identity I am thinking of is something that hovers between a man and the rest of the world: a midpoint between his view of himself and theirs of him—for each of course affects the other continually. A reciprocal fluxion, sir. There is nothing absolute about this identity of mine. Were you, you personally, to spend some days in Spain at present you would find yours change, you know, because of the general opinion there that you are a false, harsh, brutal, murdering villain, an odious man.”
“I dare say they are vexed,” said Jack, smiling. “And I dare say they call me Beelzebub. But that don’t make me Beelzebub.”
“Does it not?”
—Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander.
Chapter 1: The Strangers’ Grave: A Catechism
The pistol fired. A woman screamed. The end of his story began.
Was attention paid? By whom? Begin again.
a quarterly journal of experimental and narrative history_______________________
Island of the virus, madness island
... it has many names - the Riems
via Joerg Colberg
The Great One, Two Punch
Socialize Costs, Privatize Profits
Parallel to the privatization scam is a con that has long been hidden yet is far more insidious. Under this version of Russian roulette, corporations have easily gotten away with the consequences of their deeds. Land was cheep, air and water unlimited, minerals abundant, workers expendable, a sucker was born everyday and you always had friends in government to bail you out when the house of cards collapsed. Who cared about industrial waste, polluted groundwater, ill workers or failed banks, everything was replaceable. Someone else will foot the bill.
In Washington, DC, political insiders – along with their media consorts — are acting out assigned roles in a grand Noh theatre performance, dancing the sequester minuet. They take their positions, move in well-orchestrated patterns, give their well-rehearsed speeches and scheme how to cut the budget to best serve their corporate backers. And in the mean time, the ordinary American gets screwed.
Erin Moure reads Lisa Robertson
from Lisa Robertson, Debbie: An Epic
from The Descent: A Light Comedy in 3 Parts
As in the parti-gendered streets amid
opacity the morning and how
remarkably as the grey woods pull their
fold cupidity as the sobbing in structural dull
to laughter from the vision of structural
decrepitude so very dear to my
heart which vanishes so rapturously
as the yellow rustle plucking the boughs
through dark rote through diversities of greed dull
and sleep and flight insuperable depth
pendant in this in water’s green silence
LIsa Robertson and Catriona Strang read
Capilano College in March 1995
Lisa reads from Debbie: An Epic and Catriona reads fragments.
Here, we find an archival gem that illuminates the pinnacle of an exceptional moment for women’s writing in Canada, in Vancouver in particular. Here, in the thrum of the Giantess (a chapbook series I am trying hard to bring to you) at the birth of Debbie, of Debbie: An Epic, in a moment of Raddle Moon (more on that soon), a small window of “flounce with civic tenderness…”. Here, in the wasteland of the 90s, thought greets us, and this work continues to reverberate in poetic circles beyond the English speaking world.
13th century. MS
Astrolabes, astronomers, observatories
Was Wittgenstein Right?
Philosophy is respected, even exalted, for its promise to provide fundamental insights into the human condition and the ultimate character of the universe, leading to vital conclusions about how we are to arrange our lives. It’s taken for granted that there is deep understanding to be obtained of the nature of consciousness, of how knowledge of the external world is possible, of whether our decisions can be truly free, of the structure of any just society, and so on — and that philosophy’s job is to provide such understanding. Isn’t that why we are so fascinated by it?
If so, then we are duped and bound to be disappointed, says Wittgenstein. For these are mere pseudo-problems, the misbegotten products of linguistic illusion and muddled thinking. So it should be entirely unsurprising that the “philosophy” aiming to solve them has been marked by perennial controversy and lack of decisive progress — by an embarrassing failure, after over 2000 years, to settle any of its central issues. Therefore traditional philosophical theorizing must give way to a painstaking identification of its tempting but misguided presuppositions and an understanding of how we ever came to regard them as legitimate. But in that case, he asks, “[w]here does [our] investigation get its importance from, since it seems only to destroy everything interesting, that is, all that is great and important? (As it were all the buildings, leaving behind only bits of stone and rubble)” — and answers that “(w)hat we are destroying is nothing but houses of cards and we are clearing up the ground of language on which they stand.”
Given this extreme pessimism about the potential of philosophy — perhaps tantamount to a denial that there is such a subject — it is hardly surprising that “Wittgenstein” is uttered with a curl of the lip in most philosophical circles.
Girl with Dunce Cap
(from The Dream Collector)
Greg Fallis on Arthur Tress
I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women
Edited by Caroline Bergvall, Laynie Browne,
Teresa Carmody, and Vanessa Place
reading @ Writers House
Laynie Browne, Lee Ann Brown,
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Jena Osman,
Kristin Prevallet & Cecilia Vicuńa
Going beyond the Human and Dance
Walking With Walser
K. Thomas Kahn
What is “a writer’s writer”? Although the phrase is often used both haphazardly and problematically, there is something inherently useful about it when discussing the enduring legacy of certain authors. The OED attributes the first use of the term “a writer’s writer” to Orwell, who uses this description when writing about Gerard Manley Hopkins. This is particularly fitting, perhaps, as Julian Barnes—in his London Review of Books review of Lydia Davis’s translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary—brings Davis’s own discussion of Hopkins’s work to bear on what Barnes refers to as Davis’s status as “a writer’s writer’s writer.”Robert Walser
Recently, too, J. M. Coetzee’s assessment of Gerald Murnane’s work in The New York Review of Books raises this question of inspiration and influence: as Coetzee himself is often described as “a writer’s writer,” does his praise of Murnane’s literary output cast Murnane into the realm of “a writer’s writer’s writer”? To be sure, while the term “a writer’s writer” is often ascribed to “difficult” prose, such as Proust’s and Beckett’s, it’s usually used to emphasize their influence on other writers and artists.
Swiss-born modernist Robert Walser is perhaps the most unsung of these influential “writer’s writers,” and two recent collaborative texts underscore his ability to speak across artistic mediums. A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser, to be published in April by New Directions, includes short microscript pieces by Walser himself, as well as essays, creative writing, and art objects ranging from installation pieces to etchings, all of which speak to Walser’s own microscripts.
1878 – 1956
Arthur Tress: City of Ashes
("Ashamed of my eyes that behold it")
assembled by Tom Clark
As in that grey exurban wasteland in Gatsby
When the white sky darkens over the city
Of ashes, far from the once happy valley,
This daze spreads across the blank faces
Of the inhabitants, suddenly deprived
Of the kingdom’s original promised gift.
Did I say kingdom when I meant place
Of worship? Original when I meant
Damaged in handling? Promised when
I meant stolen? Gift when I meant
Trick? Inhabitants when I meant slaves?
Slaves when I meant clowns
Who have wandered into test sites? ...
George Saunders, Tenth of December
Justin E H Smith
I've carried around with me for the past few years this idea that George Saunders discovered a new method for exploring the human soul at hitherto unimagined depths, that he was the culmination of what Nietzsche had in mind when he called Stendhal 'a great psychologist', etc. This is in part why I put up so much resistance when, reading Tenth of December last night, I felt a certain familiar feeling, and sensed that this feeling was not the one I had when I last read Saunders, and judged that he was plumbing the depths of the human soul, etc., but rather the one that I have had, on occasion, when, passing through one of those American cities where they still have local newspapers with 'funny pages', my eyes land upon that day's installment of Dilbert. Office memos from small-minded middle managers, meaningless tech speak, and the grinding debasement of wage labor: ha ha. _______________________
But still, Saunders has discovered something new, and while this something is not a new method for excavating the human soul, quite, it is enough to merit quick praise from Thomas Pynchon, and long-winded, dorky praise from Dave Eggers. Saunders has discovered namely a system of punctuation that reproduces contemporary American diction and cadences with astounding accuracy. And this diction and these cadences are precisely the manner of speaking of people, contemporary Americans, who can barely speak: Saunders's most stunning literary achievement is to reproduce inarticulacy with unprecedented verisimilitude.
Translating Cavafy: eros, memory, and art
Randall Couch interviews George Economou on the task of translating Cavafy
I believe the persistent calling for translations of Cavafy is a clear indication of the power of his work. May they continue. I definitely suppose part of the attraction to his work is due to the important changes taking place in our society, changes that he seemed to hope for in the closing lines of his poem “Hidden Things.” Cavafy’s hopes for a world without intolerance adds yet another dimension to the profound humanity of his poetry.
There is something to be said about wanting to check out the translations that Cavafy read and, as you say, “tacitly tolerated,” at least because he probably didn’t find them absolutely intolerable. I don’t think we have any way of knowing what he really thought of them. I believe a prospective translator of Cavafy should read and appraise as many of the previous translations as possible, but when the time comes to do the job should set them aside, with the exception of occasionally consulting about how a special problem was solved.
NewPages Literary Multimedia Guide
- podcasts, videos, and audio programs of interest from literary magazines, book publishers, alternative magazines, universities and bloggers. Includes poetry readings, lectures, author interviews, academic forums and news casts.
700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities
The years of incuriosity and novarum rerum
incupidissimus, the years of cheap acquisition
and irresponsible postponement, or cheap
postponement and irresponsible acquisition,
of listlessness, of miniaturism, of irascibility,
of being soft on myself, of being hard on myself,
and neither knowing nor especially caring which.
The years of re-reading (at arm’s length).
The fiercely objected-to professional years,
the appalling indulgent years, the years of no challenge
and comfort zone and safely within my borders.
The years of no impressions and little memory.
14 Poems by Thomas McEvilley
read by their author
Video by Michael Kasino
(July 13, 1939 – March 2, 2013)
Jerry Saltz on Critic Thomas McEvilley, 1939-2013
The Shape of Ancient Thought:_______________________
Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
Thomas McEvilley at PennSound
Roy C. Andrews_______________________
University of Oregon Photograph Collection
From Picasso: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz,
& Other Poems
translated by Pierre Joris, Jerome Rothenberg,
and Diane Rothenberg
4-9 february 1944
from between the fingers of the gentle caravans of oriflammes
sheaves in dead leaf shedding petals gropingly immense
stoppered vessels the
dances and screams imposed horizontally in good order and
details at the
lively pink of the oh so laughing points of the stars of the fan
honey jar tolling the bells varied in numbers and musics at 5
to the table of white wood toughly painted with whip lashes in
blue with the tender colors of the fringes splattered in torrents
in sweet and large lemons wild plighting of troths and vine
leaves as well
suspended in the middle of soups of acids as dead with fright
and full of
—Translation from French by Pierre Joris
Outside Literature: The Lars Iyer Interview
Interview by Tim Smyth
Our time, for me, is marked by the vanishing of the last traces of authority. Josipovici has it that Modernism has always been a response to the absence of a sense of authority. You lack a model. You can imitate no one. Modern writing is bereft. But for me, the Modern writer is still not bereft of literature. Literature maintains its authority for the Modern writer, its prestige. In our time, that authority is disappearing. Literature is vanishing, but no one is there to notice it. The end of literature is not an apocalyptic explosion. As Milan Kundera says, “There may be nothing so quiet as the end”:
. . . when the agony draws to a close, we are already looking elsewhere. The death becomes invisible. It’s some time now since the river, the nightingale, the paths through the field have disappeared from man’s mind. No one needs them now. When nature disappears from the planet tomorrow, who will notice? Where are the successors to Octavio Paz, to René Char? Where are the great poets now? Have they vanished, or have their voices only grown inaudible? In any case, an immense change in our Europe, which was hitherto unthinkable without its poets.
For poets, read literature.
You ask me about the “ideal literature” in which this “disappearance” might be registered. For me, it a mode of writing haunted by the literary past, for the lost futures of literary modernism. It is a writing marked by melancholy, even if it is a laughing melancholy . . . And it is a writing marked by a sense of its own anachronism, its own marginality and imposture.
A classroom decorated for a fair
Roy C. Andrews
Connoisseur of Chaos
After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops' books
Resolved the world. We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so . And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.
A. Well, an old order is a violent one.
This proves nothing. Just one more truth, one more
Element in the immense disorder of truths.
B. It is April as I write. The wind
Is blowing after days of constant rain.
All this, of course, will come to summer soon.
But suppose the disorder of truths should ever come
To an order, most Plantagenet, most fixed. . . .
A great disorder is an order. Now, A
And B are not like statuary, posed
For a vista in the Louvre. They are things chalked
On the sidewalk so that the pensive man may see.
The pensive man . . . He sees the eagle float
For which the intricate Alps are a single nest.
Spain's Great Untranslated
Words without Borders
... poetry and prose by twelve Spanish masters whose dazzling work has been unavailable to the English-language world.
Translated from Spanish by Forrest Gander
From violent dampnesses, from
places where the residues
of torments and whimpers mesh,
this arterial grief, this shredded
They go insane,
even the mothers who run through my veins. The
bloody skylark doesn’t let up.
The tortured shadows
near the signs.
I think about the day when horses learned to weep.
haystacks in the snow
d. March 4, 1916
The Red Egg_______________________
Reviewed: The Silence of Animals by John Gray
From its humble beginnings as a means of stocktaking and tallying debts, writing gave humans the power to preserve their thoughts and experiences from time. At the same time it has allowed them to invent a world of abstract entities and mistake them for reality. The development of writing has enabled them to construct philosophies in which they no longer belong in the natural world.
That, according to Gray, was the beginning of all our woe. We invented abstractions that destroyed our peace by persuading us that we do not belong to this world. The great monotheistic religions were the original instruments of this illusion but he believes that the atheist secularism that claims to be supplanting them has fallen for the same illusion. This is where we come to the core of his attack on secular humanism.
Our capacity for language has prompted us to create myths that express the riddle of our existence. Myths are works of art and, like all true art, they are their own meaning. While myth cannot rescue us from our predicament, it does transubstantiate it into language – and that is a huge achieve -ment. I agree with Gray that language is our greatest danger because its hypnotic abstractions can drive us mad but I also believe it is our greatest invention because through it we can have communion with other troubled souls.
Artists are better at creating this than theologians and philosophers, which is why it is no accident that Gray’s new book is filled with poetry and the meditations of creative thinkers.
God's Resignation Letter—the Response
Ella066: My father was an alcoholic and God is showing EXACTLY the same traits. God gets all ragey and wipes out the Earth in a flood or something, and then comes back and tells us that he loves us and we’re his children, and then, when it’s convenient, he just takes off. It’s infuriating. I really think he could use some therapy.
Slash: Why did he quit, was it because he messed up the Pope appointment?
LambofC: I don’t think he can handle climate change. He screwed up there, and it’s just become too much for him. He’s old now and I heard he has a blood disorder that tires him out very easily.
Piousxx: I think he’s scared of the Higgs Boson particle. He didn’t think of that when he “created” the universe.
Donna80: Did anyone see the last episode of Girls? It was weird! Can’t wait for next season of Game of Thrones!!
God: Let the chatter be silent, lest I smite you!!!
In his dream, Wittgenstein Jr has grown as big as Godzilla, and strides through Cambridge pulling the roofs of the buildings, and biting the heads off the Dons.
In my dream, Wittgenstein Jr towers above us like an ancient God, like a hole in the sky ...
— Wittgenstein Jr
Stéphane Frédéric Hessel
1917 – 2013
Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95
Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies
Have We Arrived In “Brave New World” ?
... The economies we live in and the financial system(s) that underpin them depend upon growth, and upon the exploitation of human creativity, imagination and labour. The core assumption of growth and extraction of profit at the cost of someone else’s consumption and/or compliance is deeply embedded .. just the way things are, the natural way a society should operate. Legal strangleholds on copyright, employment legislation, commercial activity, invention of new value ensure that this set of arrangements benefits from deep inertia.
However, it seems clear that this center cannot hold, and that it is being blown apart by accelerating and essentially uncontrollable streams of information between connected people (whether in formal organizational structures or somewhere out there on the edges of society).
As for me .. I want to both get out ahead of the curves by stepping out of the manic technocratic mainstream, and by offering my capabilities to those who are interested in seeking and exploring ‘better’, more human and more honest ways of getting through this life. I don’t really want to be part of the Brave New World I think I see coming at us quite quickly.
By the way, it creeps me out that the text box on Facebook asks you “what are you feeling, Jon ?”
Facebook is mining us in order to benefit and profit from the notion of “the feelies” in Huxley’s novel Brave New World.
That seems clear to me.
via Phil Cubeta
Variation and Varieties in Contexts of English
Varieties of Variation and the Variation of Varieties: an Introductory Essay
Intended as a methodological preamble and contribution to the volume, the essay addresses the range of approaches to, perspectives on and theoretical issues attached to variation in language use found in the various interested disciplines, overviews some of the range of types of variation identified by scholars in different periods and places, while also issuing a caveat by highlighting the potentially confusing taxonomic and terminological variation also to be found in the field, i.e. the varieties, and crossing, of names given to the various types of variation.
The Earthy Shields
Lavender and contorted
Only and lavender
Outrageous and very
This flipper may back and
beckon, but it
is absurdly hidden
Into a streamed fly a short man
has seemed contorted
Formless as a
hay, more formless than shield
The rain saying our
face, its own calling skin
Appeal has rotted in our curved
Gloom is so homeward-bound
it has mourned it
Hearing an earthy gross year from under
old decent water
Our hand thickening, motionless
and farcical, our arm rotting
(1 March 1900 – 17 April 1985)
Basil Bunting at EPC and the Poetry Foundation
A Note on Basil Bunting
The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley
... I am curious to know if an implicit quality of language occurs when words are used in a situation peculiar to their own history. History , however, may be an awkward term, since it might well imply only a respectful attention on the part of the writer rather than the implicit rapport between words and man when both are equivalent effects of time and place. In this sense there is a lovely dense sensuousness to Bunting's poetry, and it is as much the nature of the words as the nature of the man who makes use of them. Again it is a circumstance shared.
I am caught by the sense of himself Bunting defines:
I hear Aneurin number the dead and rejoice,It is the hierarchal situation of poet going deeper in time than one could borrow or assume, and hence the issue of some privileged kinship with the nature of poetry itself in one's own language. Pound's "heave," with the trochee, proved him sensitive to it and makes clear one aspect of the relation between Bunting and himself. Bunting, from the earliest poems in Loquitur to the greatness of Briggflatts itself, is closely within the peculiar nature of his given language, an English such as one rarely now hears. In the earlier poems he makes use of a Latin, call it, appropriately enough:
being adult male of a merciless species.
Today's posts are piles to drive into the quaggy past
on which impermanent palaces balance.
Narciss, my numerous cancellations preferBut the insistent intimate nature of his work moves in the closeness of monosyllables, with a music made of their singleness:
slow limpness in the damp dustbins amongst the peel
tobacco-ash and ends spittoon lickings litter
of labels dry corks breakages and a great deal
of miscellaneous garbage picked over by
covetous dustmen and Salvation Army sneaks
to one review-rid month's printed ignominy,
the public detection of your decay, that reeks.
("To a Poet who advised me to
preserve my fragments and false starts")
Mist sets lace of frostPresumptuously or not, it seems to me a long time since English verse had such an English ear—as sturdy as its words, and from the same occasion.
on rock for the tide to mangle.
Day is wreathed in what summer lost.
substance utters or time
stills and restrains
joins design and
supple measure deftly
as thought’s intricate polyphonic
score dovetails with the tread
keep in our consciousness.
Celebrate man’s craft
and the word spoken in shapeless night, the
sharp tool paring away
waste and the forms
cut out of mystery!
When taut string’s note
passes ears’ reach or red rays or violet
fade, strong over unseen
forces the word
ranks and enumerates...
mimes clouds condensed
and hewn hills and bristling forests,
steadfast corn in its season
and the seasons
in their due array,
life of man’s own body
The sound thins into melody,
discourse narrowing, craft
Ears heavy to breeze of speech and
thud of the ictus.
Dent du Midi
(1 March 1886 - 22 February 1980)
Children of Light
1 March 1917 - September 12, 1977
Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen's bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva's night,
They planted here the Serpent's seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.