Where Shall I Wander
Shifting, too anxious to be fully aware, the screen of dirt and glitter grazes the edge of the pavement. It is understood that this is now the past, sixty, sixty-four years ago. It matters precisely at the drip of blood forming at the end of an icicle that hisses at you, you’re a pod of a man. You know, forget and dislike him.
The row of dishes stretched into the distance, dreaming. Is it Japan where you are? Who are these slate prisons, aligned, half bowing
offstage, half erupting out of the prompter’s box? Glycerin stains the cheeks
and the old fire tongs have their say. This is a story in a chest.
Conversations at night not meant to be overheard, so you can’t tell exactly when you came in, at which second. The interior is meant to be homey upstairs, downstairs, all across the hall, dazzled from the blue microsecond it took to get here, but if then, why? Why the commotion on the shore? Traces of birds in the sand, birdshit, claw marks. And the rest are missing.
I like your lingo. We two be here all the same. The Russian sparrows wheel pesteringly, no it is not time to come in, I said no it is not a time to come in. Fine we’ll stay out where it’s mild,
contingency is all the rage here. I said...No but there comes a time when contingency itself is contingent on the abrupt desire to happen, a colossal burp brewing somewhere. And moreover what I maintained to you once stands, signpost in the desert pointing the wrong way, we’ll get back whatever way we can, sure as heck. Then you just came around the barn’s edge as though materializing, it wouldn’t have taken much. So why didn’t I... didn’t we... It’s past time, half past time, too late but another time, so long, so long for a while, geez I don’t know, the answer, if I did, you—and if I did...
John Ashbery, Where Shall I Wander
Autumn in Bakhchisaray
Poemas del rio Wang
Translated by Frank Gaynor
First published as Entzifferung Verschollener Schriften und Sprachen, Springer, 1954
available in many formats at the Internet Archive
This is the story of the art of deciphering forgotten languages and scripts. In this engaging and readable book author Friedrich, one of the foremost experts in both linguistics and archaeology, first describes the languages and scripts of the Ancient Orient, then proceeds on an intellectual journey that will take the reader through Egyptian Hieroglyphics, the cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia, the interpretation of Sumerian records, the scripts of the hittites and finally the languages of Ancient Italy.
Andrei Codrescu: Two Poems_______________________
presented by Jerome Rothenberg
in the U.S. where everybody is on Facebook
pretending to be just hanging out
discussing the quirks of their dogs
their tastes in music and what they want in a mate
Facebook is just pixel puff off a virtual dog
its data bots eat your brain and make you buy stuff
and if you make a move that looks vaguely human Facebook arrests you
and connects you to Twitter LinkedIn and other social groups
where communication will rehabilitate you
Text by Noah Eli Gordon
Images by Sommer Browning
The first person the social networking website suggests you befriend is the one most responsible for your obsessive compulsion to check for friend suggestions. This is the problem with the first person: the first person is too selfish; the second person, too accusatory; the third person—just plain distant. It’s like a train whistle without a train, this barbaric act of writing poetry after the internet.
Statement for ‘Revolution and/or Poetry’
Once upon a time, Ezra Pound: ‘The common or homo canis snarls violently at the thought of there being ideas which he doesn’t know. He dies a death of lingering horror at the thought that even after he has learned even the newest set of made ideas, there will still be more ideas, that the horrid things will grow, will go on growing in spite of him.’ Earlier but closer to us now, Rosa Luxemburg: ‘No coarser insult, no baser defamation, can be thrown against the workers than the remark “Theoretical controversies are only for intellectuals.”’ The most influential modernist poetry fashioned its aesthetic priorities on the dogmatic basis that the majority of people are stupid. Pound’s assurance to the loyal cognoscenti of BLAST, that ‘of course the homo canis will follow us’ because ‘it is the nature of the homo canis to follow’, is not just a festering scrap of leftover Nietzsche, but also a defamation of working class experience. Its judgment (posing as a rollicking mannerist exercise in fascist ribaldry) is that the power of art to move is the same power that keeps stupid (working class) people unfree. Where it moves, they must follow. Art proves the necessity of blind compulsion. Its power depends on the unequal distribution of intellect as the condition of aesthetic possibility; its immortality depends on the inexorability of that unequal distribution and the power of art to exploit it. Luxemburg’s account of the worker whose living labour is already theoretical is the true blast. What might be the complexion and activity of a poetry that started from the principle that all people are equally intelligent? How might poetry shape its technical priorities and depths of feeling in response to the proposition of Jacques Rancière, that ‘there is inequality in the manifestations of intelligence, according to the greater or lesser energy communicated to the intelligence by the will for discovering and combining new relations; but there is no hierarchy of intellectual capacity’? What would a poetry sound like, how would it move, whose principle is that radical egalitarian activism—activism aimed at abolishing social hierarchies—depends on the communication of energy to the intelligence?_______________________
Interview With Keston Sutherland
Theses On Antisubjectivist Dogma
It is difficult for me to guess at this moment where a common and spacious enough ground could be found for the poets that I know to stand together hand in hand and put their names to a collective document, such as some kind of manifesto. I think there is a stroppy and robust individualism of a fairly healthy kind among many British poets, which has caused a sometimes hypersensitive attitude of suspicion towards collective utterance and collective decision-taking. Many years ago I believed passionately that poets who hoped to have any political agency ought to get together and decide on principles and terms and aims. I sometimes still do. More practically, I wanted to create a culture of free exchange of works, and of interventions into public life, which would fashion an altogether different kind of political poetry.
One of the difficulties is that the more passionately poets think about social problems, and about capital and about government and about wars and about the politics of sexuality, the more they, the best of them at least, tend to drill down into profoundly idiosyncratic attitudes and positions. I say idiosyncratic rather than individualist. That’s been my experience. Part of the intrinsic pressure of being a poet is the flight from generality and into the aggressively and irreconcilably, absolutely singular. It’s very difficult to feel continually torn in two different directions, to feel that surge into the singular, which is a deeply private pressure that comes from childhood and from love and from sex and from any coagulation of other ends and places, and then on the other hand to want to work, to build, to assert a collective political project and political identity. I think that pressure, which can and perhaps ought to threaten to tear poets apart, must be lived and learned from, rather than simply denied in the name of an automatic and unanswerable collectivism.
Comma, sentence. Not a full stop. Pause, translated. A shadow, gesture. Within a curve, the body. Fabric. Genealogy, locks. These landformed camps, these territories.
For example. Waking, walking. Memory, at home. Nervous as a spark. Any house will turn, in. Skin, a patch of leaves. Or name the living, dead. Erasure. Seventy-one.
When might, the surgeon. Critical perceptions, neutralized. Holding pattern, these coloured sheets. Constitute positions, probable. We rest in space. Write, and then describe them, well. Exit roughness, sign.
Hunger, held, a lifelong project. Backseat, beat. One word long. This unknown, opaque distance. Is this where end, began. Begins.
Rural Japan: Radiance of the Ordinary
Priest, Deckchair and Distraught Woman
b. October 29, 1932
Self-Portrait in a Corvette's Mirror
Though its not my car
Just passing on the street and
Bent to gawk the imago swerves
Away easily longing to be free
But locked at the curb it must stay
Parked it must move into paranoiac
Knowledge the function of the eye
Illuminated headlamps englobed in delicate
Meshes of the afternoon it sheds reflection
Which makes the invisible hand loom large
Over the markets stick still stuck in motor
Capacity longing to take this performance onto
The rearview mirror stage all veiled faces
Falling back the lake falling
The window and the trees merging
So someday we try to do as many
Things as possible still ourselves
Performative precocity the unwinding gearbox
This knot of servitude that love alone must undo
Some thoughts upon having re-read five of his books
Collis has noted that “The poetry I have written – as is the case with the poetry I have written about, and which I teach – is a poetry derived from extended research and active social engagement.” In several respects, this is the key assertion, the affirmation of which should be, in my view, the main basis on which any overall judgment on the impact of his writing — taken together — thus far rests. The first and most obvious point to make here is that the poetry and the critical writing are one. The poetry and the criticism are being done in parallel. They emerge from the same project and constitute the same investigation of modernism's legacy. I believe this is crucial because so often, otherwise, readers are implicitly asked to have a whole sense of a poet who has “also written criticism,” where the poetry is a lyric project that has little or nothing to do with the poet’s literary history or critical approach. As a matter of content, but of course also as form, Collis’s writing undertakes writing as research about poets who think of writing as a form of research. Collis indirectly refers to this aspect of his career when he describes, in connection with the work on Robert Duncan, “a poetics of ‘commoning.’” (This notion of commoning seems to be the focus on Collis’s newest work.)
Stephen Collis at EPC
and Talon Books
Burn No. 30
Jane Fulton Alt
Our Invisible Revolution
As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.
It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.
Sand Hole Bronx
d. October 29, 1933
Poetry and/as revolution
Every day brings some new alarm
But will we wake up?
... at each new announcement of the destruction of individuals, communities, and ecologies – the sudden intervention of an exciting and slick new gadget that will make our lives so much easier and richer, a new celebrity scandal, a blockbuster movie, a new drug or product that will keep us balanced on the knife edge of health and dependence, a new mega-project to deliver jobs and prosperity to communities and economies on the edge of collapse.
It’s as though these two moments – of despair and hope, of impending doom and instant mind- and soul-numbing gratification – were artfully planned for us, carefully coordinated or scripted, like a film taking us through emotional highs, lows, and highs again as it progresses through its three acts, our hearts in the director’s hands throughout.
extracts from 4x4
12 or 20 questions: with Stephen Collis
for Ian Hamilton Finlay
Magnificent stone I
Etch a tank in your field
To protect all our little Spartas
When is the wind writing
Sails on your ruins?
Bird flew over and
Plunked an artist down
Now we are all destroying
One irreplaceable piece of
Sculpture at a time
It’s a melancholy walk
Past the present order
Which you remind is just
The disorder of the future
Though not a word is said about
The French Revolution
The eve of vagrants in
The houseless woods
I shall concentrate instead
On words which tend to occlude
I have myself a region worth
Neglect and ceaseless governance
As 1793 fades we begin
A process no passage conveys
The material needs
Whose minds sound exhortations
Ruin transformed into my italics
Hope’s my elision’s brilliant apogee
Your throng the ode’s well
No immediacies visionary gleam
Tom Sparrow’s book Levinas Unhinged is an act of vandalism. Sparrow de-faces Levinas’s philosophy, bringing out those dark aspects of his work which are often ignored in the moralizing interpretations of his more pious readers, whose focus rarely veers far from Totality and Infinity’s descriptions of the ethical transcendence of the face. At best such readers relegate these unsettling moments to the status of curios in their master’s intellectual history — they are simply early stop-offs on the journey towards ethical metaphysics; if one doesn’t want to, one needn’t even look out the window, let alone get off the train. They are interesting, but not important.
From this narrative Sparrow deliberately and decisively dissents. Admitting from the off that his aim is not to ‘get Levinas right’, he seeks to defamiliarize Levinas through a series of powerful readings, each foregrounding the strange, unsettling and liminal aspects of his philosophy: the centrality of the body, materiality, the night. The result is impressive. Sparrow presents a Levinas who is both haunted and haunting — and, a Levinas primed for an engagement with the turn towards the weird and visceral that we see in recent speculative philosophy.
Suspense is not telling
Camille Roy with Michael Cross
What I discovered through playwriting was the creative tension of antagonisms — of provocation and response — that occurs so naturally in dialogue. And I observed how that tension generated performativity, at the level of the line. The friction of conflict can be very small — focused in sound, even in the syllables — and this easily extends into a poetry practice. Also dialogue brings to the fore the physicality of language as utterance and wit.
So poems are tiny performances. But they differ from playwriting in that it isn’t a struggle between characters that generates the language. What is being performed is the poem itself. There’s a quality of a chemistry experiment — one tries adding this or that, looking for what releases energy. Sometimes a poem arises after a moment of forgetfulness. It reminds me of a pan left on the stove. After a while the thin layer of oil is smoking. Heat rises into your eyes. There’s a shimmer. A heat haze. A transformation in the materials has occurred. The oil is watery, it smells of burn. A few more minutes and there could be a fire. A poem can change in subject, tone, stance, ferocity — mysteriously, yet with the authority of an act which we have witnessed.
Three Figures and Portrait_______________________
b. October 28, 1909
Follow your dreams!
This is in one sense a proof of Marxism, a proof that labor and production are a crucial part of what it means to be human, as well as a proof of how much we — in the wake of Fordism, which provided a security that to us living today seems like an intolerable prison — recoil from alienated labor. And somehow this situation has not produced liberation but simply opened up new and more intimate terrain for exploitation. Capital is happy to indulge our fantasies. It is happy to play along with our distrust of capital by allowing us not to sully ourselves with such petty considerations as money when creative self-expression is at stake. When we fail, it leaves us space to arrive at a healthy balance between blaming ourselves and resenting the imposters who stole our place by succeeding — something we unfailingly do, for free.
d. October 28, 1987
Big Data and Due Process: Toward a Framework to Redress Predictive Privacy Harms
by Kate Crawford and Jason Schultz
Let’s destroy the panopticons
Increasing Data Collection and Surveillance in the North American Homeland
Situationist International Anthology
edited by Ken Knabb
epub or mobi available
People looking at the sea,
makes them feel less terrible about themselves,
the sea's behaving abominably,
seems never satisfied,
what it throws away it dashes down
then wants back, yanks back.
Comparatively, thinks one vice president,
what are my frauds but nudged along
misunderstandings already there?
I can't believe I ever worried
about my betrayals, thinks the analyst
benefitting facially from the sea's raged-up mist.
Obviously I'm not the only one suffering
an identity crisis knows the boy
who wants to be a lawyer no more.
O Delmore how I miss you
Dreams from his teacher.
(March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)
O Delmore how I miss you. You inspired me to write. You were the greatest man I ever met. You could capture the deepest emotions in the simplest language. Your titles were more than enough to raise the muse of fire on my neck. You were a genius. Doomed.
The mad stories. O Delmore I was so young. I believed so much. We gathered around you as you read Finnegans Wake. So hilarious but impenetrable without you. You said there were few things better in life than to devote oneself to Joyce. You’d annotated every word in the novels you kept from the library. Every word.
And you said you were writing “The Pig’s Valise.” O Delmore no such thing. They looked, after your final delusion led you to a heart attack in the Hotel Dixie. Unclaimed for three days. You—one of the greatest writers of our era. No valise.
Some thought him drunk but—really—he was a manic-depressive—which is like having brown hair.
“Horror Demands Laughter”
This Is Not a Review of Thomas Bernhard’s Novel Frost
... this isn’t really a review of Frost. A proper analysis of Bernhard would take the time to work through his language. I marked so much in Frost, highlighted so many passages that I’m not really sure how to go about synthesizing it.
My initial thought was to dodge it all by making a sarcastic post, a parody of the so-called “listicle,” those non-articles that seek to boil a work down to a digestible (and forgettable) summation of quotes, often with the intention of offering the reader a modicum of self-help (under the pretense of “wisdom”). Something like “Forty Inspiring Quotes from Thomas Bernhard’s Frost” or “Timeless Wisdom from Thomas Bernhard” or some such nonsense. Anyway, the next section, VII, comprises 40 citations from Frost, mostly excellent one-liners too good not to share. I’ve enumerated them and lumped them into one big block quote; they are listed in the order they come in the text. I think that they offer a painful and funny overview of the novel.
Autumn of the Lonely
Translated by Glenn Wallis
Dark autumn returns full of fruit and bounty,
Golden luster of beautiful summer days.
A pure blue alights out of a fallen hull;
The flight of birds resound from ancient sagas.
The wine is pressed, the mild silence
Suffused with the quiet answer of dark questions.
Soon stars will nest in the brows of the weary one;
In cool rooms a silent modesty returns
And angels step quietly out of the blue
Eyes of the lovers, who suffer more softly now.
The reed breathes; a boney horror attacks
When the thaw drips blackly from barren fields.
1927 – 1994
b. October 25, 1914
On the Calming Idiom of Social Violence
The Language of Neoliberalism
Outsource. Streamline. Downsize. Liberalize. Flexibilise. Get lean. Offshore. Lay off._______________________
What is behind the rise in the use of these terms? Why not instead use those like ‘fire’ and ‘dislocate’ and ‘steal’ and other more lucid descriptions of the cold-blooded work of corporate chieftains to fire millions of American workers and replace them with Asians at a pittance wage in unregulated environments? Doesn’t their use suggest that the people who use them are uncomfortable with more candid descriptions of what is happening? Why has The New York Times, for years now, used “enhanced interrogation techniques” instead of “torture”? Why has “shell shock” been replaced by progressively more obscure terminology, such as, “war fatigue” and “combat stress reaction” and “post traumatic stress disorder,” now rendered as simply “PTSD”? (How much verbal unpacking is necessary before the nucleus of that temporizing acronym is discovered?)
Is this lexicon not the herald of a people deeply troubled by their reality? Or is it simply the unconscious response of the human mind to a horror of its own making? Is it our fumbling attempts to tolerate the intolerable? To mask terror, cloak slaughter, and refabricate misery in a slightly more palatable tongue—with expressions that ask little more from us than a sonorous groan as we reach for the steaming cup of Earl Grey on the breakfast table? So that, in time, we can forget the epoch entirely, dismissing it as one of the countless misfortunes of history, which is, after all, we tell our dinner guests with tolerant gazes, simply the story of a fallible species striving to improve itself. Naturally mistakes will be made, however regrettable. Nods all around. But this opaque language—much like “traffic calming” street furniture slows the pace of traffic—becalms the public mind by disguising the ferocity of social violence it putatively describes.
Incense of a New Church
d. October 23, 1935
Inequality Is a Choice
Joseph E. Stiglitz
On the one hand, widening income and wealth inequality in America is part of a trend seen across the Western world. A 2011 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that income inequality first started to rise in the late ’70s and early ’80s in America and Britain (and also in Israel). The trend became more widespread starting in the late ’80s. Within the last decade, income inequality grew even in traditionally egalitarian countries like Germany, Sweden and Denmark. With a few exceptions — France, Japan, Spain — the top 10 percent of earners in most advanced economies raced ahead, while the bottom 10 percent fell further behind.
But the trend was not universal, or inevitable. Over these same years, countries like Chile, Mexico, Greece, Turkey and Hungary managed to reduce (in some cases very high) income inequality significantly, suggesting that inequality is a product of political and not merely macroeconomic forces. It is not true that inequality is an inevitable byproduct of globalization, the free movement of labor, capital, goods and services, and technological change that favors better-skilled and better-educated employees.
I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.
Why a war on poor people?
This tenor of our politics indicates an overt hostility and animus towards poor people. How is it possible to explain this part of contemporary politics on the right? What can account for this persistent and unblinking hostility towards poor people?
Innovative thinking about social agency and structure in a global world
Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide'
Daniel J. Solove
Commentators often attempt to refute the nothing-to-hide argument by pointing to things people want to hide. But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty "premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong." Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.
The deeper problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is that it myopically views privacy as a form of secrecy. In contrast, understanding privacy as a plurality of related issues demonstrates that the disclosure of bad things is just one among many difficulties caused by government security measures. To return to my discussion of literary metaphors, the problems are not just Orwellian but Kafkaesque. Government information-gathering programs are problematic even if no information that people want to hide is uncovered. In The Trial, the problem is not inhibited behavior but rather a suffocating powerlessness and vulnerability created by the court system's use of personal data and its denial to the protagonist of any knowledge of or participation in the process. The harms are bureaucratic ones-indifference, error, abuse, frustration, and lack of transparency and accountability.
The Ball Poem
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.
Dream Song 224
Lonely in his great age, Henry's old friend
leaned on his burning cane while hís old friend
was hymnéd out of living.
The Abbey rang with sound. Pound white as snow
bowed to them with his thoughts—it's hard to know them though
for the old man sang no word.
Dry, ripe with pain, busy with loss, let's guess.
Gone. Gone them wine-meetings, gone green grasses
of the picnics of rising youth.
Gone all slowly. Stately, not as the tongue
worries the loose tooth, wits as strong as young,
only the albino body failing.
Where the smother clusters pinpoint insights clear.
The tennis is over. The last words are here?
What, in the world, will they be?
White is the hue of death & victory,
all the old generosities dismissed,
while the white years insist.
Emily Dickinson Archive
makes high-resolution images of Dickinson’s surviving manuscripts available in open access, and provides readers with a website through which they can view images of manuscripts held in multiple libraries and archives. This first phase of the EDA includes images for the corpus of poems identified in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, edited by R. W. Franklin (Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1998).
The controversy behind Emily Dickinson’s online archive
by Kirsten Reach
Down to the Factory
1912 - 1994
arcimbaldo revisited & other poems
A landscape, spied through the anecdotal keyhole.
You keep it all barely
ticking over – a one-eyed strabismus
Roman holiday –
how many times must X be said,
The weather’s grey – realism’s last word
creeping up the drainpipe.
ripples the fishbowl:
death to quotation marks!
People you know don’t always like each other.
of the mystified quotidian.
The wilderness and foreignness
of life de-dramatised? Preferring the counterfeit,
the evening’s amorousness settles in.
at Poetry International_______________________
"His sentences are oar strokes" (Thomas Bernhard)
His sentences are oar strokes that would propel him forward if it weren’t for the powerful current. Sometimes he pauses, falls silent and listens, as though to check whether his present situation might not have been replaced by its successor. “It’s impossible to direct anything.” Things still in the future and the distant past all pull on one string with him, sometimes ten times in the space of a single sentence. He is a man who thinks continually of great losses, without any detachment. The sea surfaces in him, and in the sea is a boulder, part of an enormous sunken city, the end of an unanticipated story, far in the past. Death knots his net … Colors that are nothing but extrusions of flesh narcotize him philosophically … The adducing of extremes, so as to be able to spit them out.
Seeing for a Moment
I thought I was growing wings—
it was a cocoon.
I thought, now is the time to step
into the fire—
it was deep water.
Eschatology is a word I learned
as a child: the study of Last Things;
facing my mirror—no longer young,
the news—always of death,
the dogs—rising from sleep and clamoring
and howling, howling,
I see for a moment
that's not it: it is
the First Things.
Word after word
floats through the glass.
quai du vert galant, paris
Hamish Mckenzie on Aeon
If “slow media” needs a poster child, it can find one in Aeon Magazine, an online publication about culture and ideas that marks its first birthday tomorrow. In the space of a year, the magazine, started by a London-based Australian couple who have no background in media, has established itself as a first-rate example of a modern-day magazine, free from the constraints of legacy press and proudly aloof from the pageview-chasing linkbaitery of the Web 2.0 era. It publishes top writers, carries no ads, and encourages readers to save its stories for reading later via the likes of Instapaper, Kindle, or Pocket. Publishing just one essay a day, five days a week, it serves as a venue for considered cultural critiques, thoughtful essays on existentialism, and deep dives on science and nature.
The Slow Media Manifesto
for John Tranter
a snapshot, prague
rain would suggest pathos
out-staring ruin, i, shell of ...
sickness & medication
the mind like damaged meat
& in a cafe bar
the usual menu lying on a table ...
locked inside a hundred words
here a symphony of dvorak
a city of eyes
suspended in blank meditation
behind them, anything
the poet writes has a vision
M. Barre’s Carousel. Paris
Two Poems _______________________
Preparations for Winter
A roof and walls remind that rent and taxes make sense
only in a cold climate. Gathering in the life-forces—
bottles, jars, cured meats. Prescriptions of ersatz.
Morning for morning, necessity creates junk, given up
in pursuit of sane-ness. Art also has its morality.
Waiting outside a pawnbroker’s window, a handful of
teeth, glass eyes, a broken tympanum. A poem for
autumn’s last days, in this our era of chronic remorse.
In dreams I struggle beneath some dying Minotaur
that will not give up the ghost. Another day of the
dry heaves, staring into well-springs of boredom.
Why punish ourselves with alternatives? The wound
between the dilemma’s horns beckons like a sex.
Though in the meantime, pretending to states of mind
that freely co-operate, you expect the worst.
Fox terrier on the Pont des Arts
Sojourns in the Parallel World
b. October 24, 1923
We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.
Let’s Get This Class War Started
The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.
The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” Fitzgerald wrote of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby’s life. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are,” Wendell Berry writes. “Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all—by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians—be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”
Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown. The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.
Communication is a Revolutionary Act:
Thoughts on communication and media for liberation
The innocence of media
The black bloc, the spectacle and the therapy of violence
Chromatic Wood Type
"Chromatic type is printed from multiple pieces of type, each in a different ink color. The following samples are all from the William H. Page company's 1874 book, 'Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc.' [.]. The specimen book was used to sell the wooden pieces of type to printers. The types cost around 25 cents per letter, per ink color.
Twoclosewords: Refusal / Refusal
I was going to write Resistance / Resistance, but then I thought, No, every refusal has a fuse in it. A charge in the middle of every one of its bodies.
(In a room with a Berryman forehead overlooking it)
A figure is questioned. This is the third time the figure has exhibited a writing like this, that goes on like this, that exhausts many of the other figures in the room with a Berryman forehead overlooking it. Is it sustainable? Is it excessive?
One of the other figures is questioned. What was it like, reading the writing the figure has exhibited? It was an experience, the other figure replies.
A figure is questioned. How many more experiences will they have to go through? Is it productive?
“It is possible to imagine that, whatever change is, it results from this charged unmediated intuition in friction with events. In Kant’s words:
The light dove cleaving in free flight the thin air, whose resistance it feels, might imagine that her movements would be far more free and rapid in airless space. Just in the same way Plato, abandoning the world of sense because of the narrow limits it sets to the understanding, venture upon the wings of ideas beyond it, into the void space of pure intellect. He did not reflect that he made no progress by all his efforts; for he met with no resistance which might serve him for a support, as it were, whereon to rest, and on which he might apply his powers, in order to let the intellect acquire momentum for its progress.
I read Kant’s casting of resistance or contingency as rest or support, necessary to movement or change, as a minimalist fable about the sociality of intuition: Nothing is represented to and for the intuition which has not met with the sheer resistance and partial histories of unpredicatable bodies.What can this intuited space tell about the videowork? That seeing is a seeing-for the body’s inexperience? The video image pixillates resistance, as airy support or frictive rest. Interiority is for speculation, for sensual resistance, and is given to the seeing subject by that resistance.”
-”Perspectors/Melancholia,” Nilling, Lisa Robertson
This morning, I had breakfast in a room with powerful women. One of the powerful women sang William Blake to a tiger’s head on a stick. Its jaws snapped when you pulled a trigger. I walked outside to see one of the powerful women off to the airport. We saw a white pigeon. We saw a birdrat, an airlump refusing to blend in. We saw a white pigeon re-fusing to protect itself against the tiger heads on sticks. It’s a good sign, I said.
Frost at Midnight
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
b. Oct. 21, 1772
... Sea, hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.
Clutching at Railings
In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence’. One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.
What could this resurgence almost be said to resemble?
By how much did it fall short of being a miracle?
Today, however, we inhabit a new age. The age of?
Indeed, from what do we sometimes suffer, with respect to information?
And where Flann O’Brien studies are concerned, in what complete and novel sporting pastime do we find ourselves engaged?
A whole new ball game.
With what mortifying surfeit do we find ourselves faced?
An embarrassment of riches.
The consequence is that we now know almost everything there is to know about Flann O’Brien; and out of this knowledge a story has emerged, a received narrative, which makes a more upsetting kind of sense than anything he ever wrote in his books.
b. October 22, 1925
a figure caught in language
Marlene Streeruwitz -- Interview with Helga Kraft 27 March 2006
The characters are linguistic beings who only exist in language. Based on an anti-auratic, but joyful manner of narration, they are experimental constructs who conduct their life linguistically. Thus they reveal what the long discussions on cyborg figures have shown: life in the media is possible. And in literature it's been that way for a long time, which I consider most productive. I would think that this linguistic existence in language is the only one in which we find all aspects of existence describable, because we bounce off the outer representation but find our way into the figures themselves. That is only possible through language. And that is an enormous event, providing incredible pleasure and the greatest pain.
First impression of a hasty once-over. Of universal
solvent and under-the-bed. An atmosphere both
apologetic and hostile, orphaned
amenities procured at clearance, curtains synthetic
and religious in their weight and ability
to absorb guilt. A thriving ecosystem’s residents
stared from fringes of the textiles, the debased
baseboards, and would grow bold. A doorknob
came off in my hand like a joke prosthetic.
Rooms like this have followed me around
for 20 years. It’s as though I married into a bad
family of many cousins. ...
Epistemology and the Financial Crisis
Reputable contemporary economic theory assumes that agents are endowed with a fully predetermined model that is baked into the foundation of the world, existing before people come to carry out its destiny. In this narrative, agents are either rational or, if they cannot correctly perform the calculations to optimize their preferences, they must be irrational. In the grip of this analytical vise, the neoclassical model permits two explanations for the financial crisis: poor incentives or the mania of crowds. Neither of these explanations holds up in light of the evidence. But if we accept that bankers, investors, regulators, and ratings agencies lacked a fully predetermined model, we can arrive at a more nuanced understanding of how financial institutions ended up in such bedlam, why credit markets collapsed, and why they took so long to recover.
The “Futures” of American Intellectual History
report on the Futures of American Intellectual History conference, held earlier this year in Cambridge, England.
... in a subfield long marked by a sense of internal solidarity, a renewed attention to methodological divisions carries a special significance. They suggest that echoes of the primordial disputes between “internalists” and “externalists,” or acolytes of Lovejoy’s “history of ideas” and Curti’s “social history of American thought,” have endured even as our practices have been reimagined and recast. We should not be surprised to hear these reverberations at the very moment when intellectual historians have begun acknowledging their own return to prominence. If marginalized subfields seek to coalesce around common ground, newly “ascendant” ones can return to the luxuries of internal disputation. Arguments that were only faintly audible from the rafters at Cambridge are likely to grow louder in the years ahead.
The Society for U.S. Intellectual History
Streamer Gothic Paneled type
Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders, etc.
manufactured by Wm. H. Page & Co., 1874
The Man of the Woods
and the Cat of the Mountains
R. B. Kitaj
d. October 21, 2007
THE NUMBERS ARE ALL WRONG,
the coo and gurgle of the baby
is the equation's truth.
There are no directions, no colors,
no sights, no tastes, no sounds,
except in the shape of building the soul,
or in mating,
or in dodging the predator.
The naked, tiny, pink bird
wiggling next to the green eggs
in the nest
is aliving feast
set to dine on the cosmos and to sip
meat and nectar from the mother's beak.
the reaching of matter,
(till as Ouroboros it swallows
the waves of its tail),
there will still be the snail sleeping
locked in its shell
on the branch
and the smiling cat on the gravel
under a tree.
b. October 20, 1932
1 2 3 4
unpacking my library
R. B. Kitaj
Unpacking My Library [pdf]
Unpacking: Walter Benjamin And His Library [pdf]
Joseph D. Lewandowski
... In the course of Walter Benjamin’s short and wandering life, books were, along with his Paul Klee painting Angelus Novus, his most beloved possessions. Benjamin referred to his love of books as his “bibliomania.” Even when broke, virtually homeless, and in poor health, he spent what money he had on books._______________________
Thus it is not surprising that, in late 1931, Benjamin took the occasion to write a brief and wonderful essay entitled “Unpacking My Library— A Talk on Collecting.” At that time Benjamin, having nearly two years earlier concluded his separation from his wife, Dora, with a divorce, and having left his Berlin-Grunewald residence, was in fact moving into his own partially furnished apartment. Around him stood—in crates, piles and stacks—roughly 2,000 books. One can only imagine such a sight: the melancholy dialectician and author painstakingly unpacking crate after crate, sorting through book after book, long into the night. Why was Benjamin, who seems to have had, at est, only strained and awkward personal relationships, so enamored of his books?
b. October 20, 1939
‘No more of those waves’
Cur igitur scribam miraris. Miror et ipse et tecum quaero saepe quid inde petam.
Ovid -- Epistulae ex ponto
Ovid, who once was not the least of your friends asks you to read his words to you, Maximus. Don’t look to find my genius in them, lest you appear ignorant of my exile. You see how laziness spoils an idle body, how water acquires a tang unless its flowing. Whatever skill I had in making poetry fails me, too, diminished by idle neglect. Maximus, if you believe me, this too that you read, I write while barely forcing it from an unwilling hand. There’s no delight in setting the mind to such things, nor does the Muse come to the harsh Getae when called. Yet I’m struggling to weave verses, as you see: though it’s no easier than my fate. When I read it, I’m ashamed of what I’ve written, since I see what I who wrote it think should be erased. Still I don’t alter it. It’s a greater effort than writing, and my fragile mind can’t bear anything onerous. Should I start to use the file more bitingly, and summon every single word to judgement? Is fate not tormenting me enough unless I make Lixus flow into Hebrus, and Athos add leaves to the Alps? The spirit with a miserable wound should be spared. Oxen draw back their sore necks from the load. But suppose there’s a reward, the best reason for effort, and the field returns the seed with profit? So far no work of mine, you can list them all, has profited me – I wish none had harmed me! Why do I write then, you wonder? I wonder too, and often ask like you what I seek in it. Or do people say truly that poets are not sane, and am I the greatest proof of what they say, I who persist in sowing my seed in poisonous ground though deceived so many times by barren soil? The fact is everyone’s eager for their own pursuits, and delight in spending time on their favourite art. The wounded gladiator swears off fighting, then lifts the same weapons, forgetting his old wound. The shipwrecked sailor says: ‘No more of those waves’, then takes oar in waters where, just now, he swam. I too serve a useless pastime constantly, and revisit the goddesses I wish I’d never worshipped.
States of Mind: The Farewells
b. October 19, 1882
Book of Lamentations
Sam Kriss on the DSM as dystopian novel
It’s also not exactly a conventional novel. Its full title is an unwieldy mouthful: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The author (or authors) writes under the ungainly nom de plume of The American Psychiatric Association – although a list of enjoyably silly pseudonyms is provided inside (including Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Dan Blazer, and the superbly alliterative Susan Swedo). The thing itself is on the cumbersome side. Over two inches thick and with a thousand pages, it’s unlikely to find its way to many beaches. Not that this should deter anyone; within is a brilliantly realized satire, at turns luridly absurd, chillingly perceptive, and profoundly disturbing.
If the novel has an overbearing literary influence, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Luis Borges. The American Psychiatric Association takes his technique of lifting quotes from or writing faux-serious reviews for entirely imagined books and pushes it to the limit: Here, we have an entire book, something that purports to be a kind of encyclopedia of madness, a Library of Babel for the mind, containing everything that can possibly be wrong with a human being. Perhaps as an attempt to ward off the uncommitted reader, the novel begins with a lengthy account of the system of classifications used – one with an obvious debt to the Borgesian Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which animals are exhaustively classified according to such sets as “those belonging to the Emperor,” “those that, at a distance, resemble flies,” and “those that are included in this classification.”
Poemas del río Wang
Three Poems from The Rest of the Voyage
translated from the French by Eléna Rivera
the proportions at times prompt the sky to think
the garden therefore is in the open head
to look is to see the interior view
the long fold stirs according to the hidden
which comes to the edge of form a white shadow
the boxwood knows that better than us it builds
by ardor of the line springboards for the eye
the infinite sets itself thus within reach
the tree is always of life or of knowledge
from the moment where the sap of breath appears
it isn’t important to have a green thumb
but to be able to bring through the branches
this flowering of air that we call being
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov_______________________
d. Oct. 18, 1942
The History of Fear, Part 5
After my posts on Hobbes (rational fear), Montesquieu (despotic terror), Tocqueville (democratic anxiety), and Arendt (total terror), we’re ready to turn to more recent theories of fear, which arose in the 1980s and 1990s, in the wake of the conservative backlash against the 1960s and the collapse of communism.
Slamá, the Taylor
via Caleb Crain
Words To That Effect
It was during the week we talked about deforestation.
How sad that everything has to change,
yet what a relief, too! Otherwise we'd only have
looking forward to look forward to.
The moment would be a bud
that never filled, only persevered
in a static trance, before it came to be no more.
Gently Behind the Sullen Night-Cloud
Translated by Eric Plattner & Joseph Suglia
Gently behind the sullen night-cloud
the moon’s silver mass inches forth.
From the damp earth, from the heart of the field
the evening fog floats up to it.
The whole of existence slumbers,
in voiceless revelry the choir in the woods—
and from the silent groves, the solitary cry of the deserted,
the choked-out song of Philomel.
The dismal spruce stands speechless.
The night-violet ruptures into tinted sweetness.
The west-winds weave their way through the flowers,
a whisper sweeping across the evening air.
Terms Of Reference & Vectoralist Transgressions
Situating Certain Literary Transactions over Networked Services
Amodern 2: Network Archaeology
I am deliberately simplifying a complex situation, but here my point is to stress our sense of an underlying correspondence of relations. On the network, functioning like an open commons, the relationship between a terminal and the network has been constructed so as to correspond with the relationship between an individual human writer and reader, and a kind of pre-institutional, neo-Romantic world of reading and writing that we associate with Western liberalism. I would argue, further, that this correspondence evokes the configurations of affect associated with the latter relation and reinforces a sensible belief that connections on the network are commensurable with a certain widely-approved, predominant sociopolitical understanding of self and society.
Overall, as a function of massively popular consensus, the effect of this correspondence is that we feel good about the network, and perhaps – perhaps too often – we think good about it. We give in to it. We have certainly, on a massive scale, given in to it. We have given in to it to the extent that it now stores and gives access to what is rapidly becoming the world of reading and writing. We undertook this work of transcription ourselves because it seemed good to us. Now a collective commons of peer devices on the network appears to accept, to hold, and so stand ready and able to give back for us to read so much of all that we have written into it, especially since the mid-1990s. Indeed, so much has been inscribed into the network that new services have been developed, especially services of search, helping us to find our way through all this writing and get back to reading, of a kind. So far so good, in a sense. The story is familiar to almost all of us.
Two poems by Pierre Joris
Drift Und Drang
that man-shaped tree trunk
on the rocks at lowtide
borders the narrows,
at hightide the day
before it beat its wooden
semblance on those
same rocks — the twin
branches imitating legs
submerged, the pin-
head angled up, banging
on the rocks at algae
A journal where nothing applies
Syllabus of ErrorsDrunken Boat 17
Last night, I wrung free the dirt clotted on my palm, smeared error onto jeans, shrugged off my flesh like some necrotic bustier. I wanted to find the advanced technology of the body, the stuff made from Shi’ar hardlight, where photons congeal into ooze, ooze into clay, clay into muscle and steel. Unless the body is an altar, one with candles askew and the scent of pine needles singing the lace at the hipbone, the kind of lace that is frictionless, that can speed. Unless the body winters well.
Espacement de Lecture
Spacing Reading: Digital language and the differential, or “inextrinsic”. _______________________
Pointers to reading the digital essay:
Is digital poetry really “about” the visual?
There are those who think so. I don’t. But it does significantly impact the visual in language. Furthermore, language, images and visuality have all changed in the digital era.
The essay below aims to show this by picking up what Mallarmé, and Derrida after him, call “spacing reading.” It sounds simple. But it takes you to the heart of what is innovative about digital thought.
The essay is a poetic exploration of how digital writing and reading operate in a new dynamic, exploring existing pathways and structures, innovatively correlated. But this simple change in relations - this new dynamic - does something further. Not only does digital reading/writing make visible and active existing structures of reading and language, it also creates new ones.
The villages of yesterday
Poemas del río Wang
The death of a language
Translation by Kristina Aurylaite
It is often said that every two weeks a language dies. But the statement belies a complex reality, in which languages are transformed, replaced or simply vanish along with their users. Giedrius Subacius on the fate of the Lithuanian language, among others.
"The Transformations In The Understanding Of Temporality In Postmodern Literature"
This article attempts to combine the views of natural and social sciences on temporality, focusing on the changes that occurred in the Western culture since the 1960s and the analysis of postmodern literature in particular, regarding the transformations of the notions of time represented in the texts written by John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Don DeLillo, William Gaddis, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut. These transformations are crucial to the understanding of postmodern aesthetics in literature since time is one of the most fundamental parameters through which narrative as a genre is organized and understood.
Americana E-Journal Of American Studies In Hungary
Volume IX, Number 1, Spring 2013
From the Translator: On Flowers and Maps
Ross Ufberg on translating Vladimir Lorchenkov, The Good Life Elsewhere
No easy task for the translator. How to communicate the grimness of it all, to maintain the grotesque and grandiose metaphor without lampooning it? That entire chapter, less than a page, required no less than fifteen drafts. For this, and other difficulties along the way, I resorted to a wide range of resources: folks with a good ear for the spoken word, scholarship on Medieval Russian chronicles, literary cookbooks and, most important of all, a group of translators who pulled no punches in pointing out areas where my solitary efforts failed. Communal solutions have made this a much better English novel.
Meir ben Eliahu: Into the Light
Someone at last night's launch asked whether translating poetry was possible. I answered that it was impossible, yet we translate it and, by doing so, help expand the roots of the poem into other languages. What is translatable? the questioner asked me afterwards. The spirit, I replied, which was not a satisfactory answer since the spirit is nothing without the flesh, that flesh being comprised of all the formal qualities of the poem, which are, after all, markers of the process whereby the original poem developed. I tried to add this to the simple and misleading answer and I think we understood each other.
Into the Light – The Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich
In Emily Dickinson's terms the poet constructs a house - the poem - hoping to entice a ghost - the spirit. The translator's job may be described as the building of a house likely to entice the same ghost, that is in so far as ghosts can be identified.
The book itself is beautifully produced by a Norwich press with a full introduction by the editor and instigator of the book, the writer and journalist, Keiron Pim. The translations are by Ellman Crasnow and Bente Elsworth both of whom used to teach at the UEA, who provide a very useful Translators' Note.
It seem, in many ways, to be a very local matter. The poems are by a citizen of Norwich and relate to the history of Norwich. They are published and translated in Norwich and launched there. What gives it more than local prominence is because the William case in Norwich is the very first recorded blood Blood Libel. That is enough to render it of much more than local interest.
Being the very first English translation of these seven hundred year old poems, the book's appearance also has a distinct place in English historiography since the poems - which predate Julian of Norwich, -are the only works of their kind relating to the expulsions.
Translated by Ellmann Crasnow and Bente Elsworth.
With an introduction by Keiron Oim
East Publishing, Norwich 2013
The little station
from The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems
translated from the Isthmus Zapotec and the Spanish by Natalia Toledo and Clare Sullivan
Flower that Drops Its Petals
I will not die from absence.
A hummingbird pinched the eye of my flower
and my heart mourns and shivers,
does not breathe.
My wings tremble like the long-billed curlew
when he foretells the sun and the rain.
I will not die from absence, I tell myself.
A melody bows down upon the throne of my sadness,
an ocean springs from my stone of origin.
I write in Zapotec to ignore the syntax of pain,
ask the sky and its fire
to give me back my happiness.
Paper butterfly that sustains me:
why did you turn your back upon the star
that knotted your navel?
international journal dedicated to literary translation and bringing together in one place the best in contemporary writing. We are interested in encounters between languages and the consequences of these encounters. Though a translation may never fully replicate the original in effect (thus our name, “asymptote”: the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend towards but never reach), it is in itself an act of creation.
A Generation of Intellectuals Shaped by 2008 Crash Rescues Marx From History’s Dustbin
For those too young to remember the Cold War but old enough to be trapped by the Great Recession, Marxism holds new appeal
We All Feel Like Something is Going to Happen
... there’s a sense that the inability of a twice-resoundingly-elected liberal president to fix even the smallest of our structural problems has to mark some kind of end of the fantasy of liberal reformism. Radicals have always accused liberalism of never being able to deliver on its promises of reform—of always insisting we accept the pain without ever delivering the payoff. The Obama years have excruciatingly illustrated that critique for a new generation of politically-engaged young people. It’s always compromise, capitulation, and cuts. When the president finally digs in and refuses to accept more cuts, the entire government comes to a screeching halt. The fact that the “safe,” establishment-endorsed political positions are delivering nothing but chaos and catastrophe means we all have less and less to lose to by embracing more radical ones.
Samuel Beckett: Saint-Lô
[...] some of those who were in Saint-Lô will come home realizing that they got at least as good as they gave, that they got indeed what they could hardly give, a vision and a sense of a time-honoured conception of humanity in ruins, and perhaps even an inkling of the terms in which our condition is to be thought again. These will have been in France.
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989): excerpts from The Capital of the Ruins, unproduced radio play for Radio Erin, c. 1946
The Past Will Not Be Flat
Retrodiction, the rhymes of history, and the storm called progress
I’m sorry I never replied to your texts. My phone had gone missing for a day. When I found it, your most recent messages tumbled forth, immigrants from some lost context suddenly crawling ashore. Did you mean to convey some complicated ambiguity—and was it meant to be pained or playful? I can’t tell.Medium
Perhaps this ambiguity, which we often experience, is merely an artifact of the medium. Only to say so seems to pose a question: does the medium lend its own voice here; does it offer an interpretation; does it take a position not only on your state of mind, but on the passage of time as well? For the text, after all, is a trace, a document, a record of the past.
The network that was supposed to abolish space ended up moving to abolish time instead. Although we once dreamt of cyberspace as a frictionless grid, the network we ended up with needs the x, y, z of realspace. It reminds us of it constantly; it wants to reside in the spaces we inhabit, rather than the other way round. Space is the network’s chief uncanny affordance, lending it a kind of cultural potential energy, a latency of meaning.
via Roberto Greco
Our forward-charging culture sees regret as a sign of weakness and failure. But how else can we learn from our past?
I regret everything. Decades-old decisions, things I said, things I didn’t say, opportunities I missed, opportunities I took, recent purchases, non-purchases, returns. I turn all of these things over in my mind and examine them for clues — to what, I’m not sure. All I know is that very little of what I do or fail to do escapes the constant churn of revision. It’s just the way I process experience: sceptically, and in retrospect. It’s like being a time-traveller, only instead of going back to Ancient Rome or the French Revolution, I return again and again to the traumatic sites of my own fateful (or not so fateful) forks in the road. Some people see this as self-flagellation; I tend to think of it as a lifelong effort to reconcile the possible with the actual — a getting to know the real me. After all, as they say, we’re defined by our choices._______________________
Resume Consciousness Every Day Feelin’ Danke.
When I crawled through the reputation gang bangle, I found it was a transportation gang bangle. Dove through wormhole to a future blight as starstruck. Flew through bangle till I wore it over the world, hard circular headband round the galaxy, a handle for my dark and seethrough basket. Failed 20-odd attempts at rolling out of cellulite hatch, stuckled with black hairs, come on, it’s gross, roll out of it and be a, gorgeous clear marble rotten of shape, pure vitreous eyeball squelch reshape divide and blurp. Crystalline stretch gel droplets split up across skies to watch us bleed sweet rhythms from the douxième siècle.
Cathy Wagner's 'Nervous Device'
From commodity fetish to form
Poetry’s capital is cultural: this “state of being / text,” for the polyvocal speaker of Cathy Wagner’s fourth full-length collection, Nervous Device, is the state of being “cave-droppings” whose center is a “stone-hole soup.” The valuelessness (as evacuated site, or shit) of poetic “unmoney,” however, is for the speaker no less valuable than economic capital (also symbolic), which, like language, conditions value: “The unmoney is structured like a / Money is structured like a language. / Give that thought some currency” (55).
Giorgio Agamben’s theory of language as the prototypical state of exception in which the sovereign (metalanguage) determines the boundaries for territories of mind makes poetic language’s exilic state under capitalism heavily ironic, when considering language as a foundational matrix of “inclusive exclusion” by which things accrue value by virtue of belonging and being named.
Labor (the third component of production along with land and capital), while referenced in classical political economics from Adam Smith to Marx, has been neutralized as well as concealed (reduced to quantitative variables of work and time), which is to say, abstracted: the logic of capital reducing labor to labor power and time (a commodity reduced to the effects of value produced, stripped of its concrete, qualitative specificity and historical reality). Modernist arguments for aesthetic autonomy, followed by leftist platforms (labor politics, civil rights) of the ’60s and ’70s, have been supplanted by those of neoliberal aesthetics and marketization, what the wry speaker of Nervous Device refers to as “The Autonomy of Art Has Its Origins in the Concealment of Labor,” a one-line poem in which the abstraction of labor is shown to be the genesis of poïesis (aesthetics, and the construction of self): “My heart beat very hard by itself” (32).
Catherine Wagner at
the Poetry Foundation
, Fence Books
and Ellective Affinities
An Interview With Catherine Wagner
You’re constantly bullying your own grammar, and I can’t figure out if it’s your way of saying “you’re right about me, world, I can’t even speak right -- I’m not for you anyway,” or if you’ve set yourself to the broader task of finding a grammar that’s more suitable to what we hear when we lean way in to our own heads. Do you ever think of your writing in those terms?
The latter is maybe more what I think, but I also think it’s not just about “way into our heads” -- thinking is interrupted all the time, no one has a complete thought or makes sure the sentence is complete in thought, or even in speaking most of the time. Part of that is because we live in time, everything is always interrupted, and part of it is that language has a drift to it; it offtracks along sound and punning and sparked memory. In poems we can follow those tracks and maybe get somewhere, find out or feel something. I don’t see much point in sticking to standard grammar; what do I gain? a complete sentence? Who decided what that was anyway? I don’t object to subject-object-predicate, I use sentences mostly, but I do want to see where the language is getting pulled when I can feel some magnet or other tugging on it.
with Poet Catherine Wagner
(....)Nervous Device by Catherine Wagner
AA: What do you mean by “Nervous Device?” Do you mean nervous as in uncomfortable? Or do you mean nervous like nervous system?
CW: Thank you for bringing that out. Yes, nervous in terms of self-consciousness, nervousness, but also nervous in terms of responsiveness and reactiveness. A nervous device could be a device with which we use to communicate: a phone, a computer or language. I wrote to my editor that “the nervous device is body, handheld connection, poem. It wants you to hold it, it wants to be noticed, it wants you to see how it works to bind and separate.”
reviewed by Jessica Comola
Natalia Sergeyevna Goncharova_______________________
d. October 17, 1962
Why Are Malls Home To So Much Violence?
Eric Van Hoose
As one of the few remaining types of space where large groups of people are allowed to congregate, retail space (which finds its current idealized form in the shape of enormous, self-contained, disorienting, and carefully monitored malls) is becoming a stage on which the inevitable outcomes of public problems play themselves out.
Even though they promise to fulfill our desires, malls actually produce a sense of inequality, rage, and hopelessness. The cycle of consumerism — and the larger political and economic forces in which consumerism operates — are perpetuated by these centers, places that crystalize many aspects of social tension; they house beautiful, luxury consumer items (often made by hyper-exploited workers), underpaid wage-workers, security guards, and salve-seeking consumers under one roof. Because in order to exist they must embody the contradictions of exploitation inherent in the economic structures of which they are an integral part, malls are natural areas of conflict — places where people might feel their individual sadness, loneliness, emptiness, hopelessness, or desperation most acutely, since these emotions are so deeply entwined with how capitalism and its carefully branded retail fronts operate.
Bought a book on economy
Called about plane tickets
I bought my debt today
Georgie Bataille hooray
Debt off my God today
God off my debt in a macular hole
I dream of an end like a fount to this night
Run thinner and thinner and then it's all light
Macerated in signal
by my go
I bought my ghost I walk my ghost