October 24, 2014
Denise Levertov feature
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.
edited by John Tranter
Figure at a Washbasin
Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation
... when did we start speaking? The drama, the athletics of the Figure, the autopoeisis of the body, aren’t these already there, even before we tried establishing communication? In the triptych of rhythms in the body, outside the body and on the canvas, beyond our control and therefore within our gaze? Are we communicating? Having a conversation, talking more urgently into our palms, every gesture substantiated by a voice that we give in to more and more, that arrives with a distinct pause, that we trust more and more? A suggestion. Have a conversation with a friend you trust, call him up on his phone as he sits across from you, look each other in the eyes, and talk to each other, keeping both corridors open. Both eyes and ears. The one coming out of the phone always wins you over. Soup of senses and forces always trickling to the dark side of surveillance.
I open the book at any page and always there is this relentless stream of interrogation. Especially when I am alone. It is never the same book twice.
from Mappa Mundi
In the land of mutual rivers,
it is all a conversation: one flows uphill, one flows down.
Each ends in a bottomless lake which feeds the other
and the boatmen who sail up, down, round and round
never age, growing half a day older, half a day younger
every time... as long as they never step on land.
In the land of hot moonlight
the bathing beaches come alive at midnight.
You can tell the famous and rich by their silvery tans
which glow ever so slightly in the dark
so at all the best parties there's a moment when the lights go out
and you, only you, seem to vanish completely.
In the land where nothing happens twice
there are always new people to meet;
you just look in the mirror. Echoes learn to improvise.
So it's said... We've sent some of the old
to investigate, but we haven't heard yet. When we
catch up with them, we might not know.
Philip Gross's top 10 writings from the edge of language
Ninety now, you’re adrift on the vowel-stream,
the crisp edge of all your five languages gone
and we’re back to the least of language. It’s all one,
your, his or my slight modulations of the bare
vowel of animal need . . . though even there
how they give us away, our vowel sounds:
class, place, family secrets, the wrong
school or side of the blanket or overstayed
visa, let slip, between one consonant
and the next.
a fence of plosives, dentals and fricatives
as we will . . . in times of war and weather
we can’t stem the vowel-flood; it will swell,
barely articulate. No border can contain it;
it will seep, erode, find
cracks; it will break through.
October 23, 2014
The Loop: Ottawareposted from The New Verse News
by Stefanie Bennett
The situation is not customary - Still, allow just one
Soulful note into
Of an abbreviated
And the atypical
The half-life of disaster
The world's media-driven nerves quickly move from shock to vague foreboding and 'disaster capitalism' surges on
What is the half-life of disaster in today's global media? At most two weeks. The suffering on the ground continues, and will continue for decades. World attention quickly shifts elsewhere. The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami were soon displaced from media attention by a next unforeseen shock: upheaval in Libya. This progression is familiar by now. Hurricane in Louisiana, tsunami in the Indian Ocean, flooding in Germany, flooding in Pakistan, fires in Greece, earthquake in Haiti. Terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid, London, Moscow.
Natural disaster and terrorism define the poles of disaster. In between stretches a continuum of disaster, a plenum of frightful events of infinite variety, at every scale, coming one after the other in an endless series. The media plays its role of affective conversion with a regularity that is as predictable as each event in the series, taken separately, is shockingly unforeseen. First the affective strike of the event is instantaneously transmitted, cutting a shocked-and-awed hole of horror into the fabric of the everyday. The ability to make sense of events is suspended in a momentary hiatus of humanly unbearable, unspeakable horror. Then comes the zoom-in to the human detail. Stories get human traction. The horror is alloyed, its impact archived. Another event has been affectively conveyed with irruptive, interruptive force, only to subside into the background of everyday life. What remains is a continuous, low-level fear. This fear doesn't stand out clearly as an emotion. It is more like a habitual posture, an almost bodily bracing for the next unforeseen blow, a tensing infusing every move and every moment with a vague foreboding. This trace-form anticipation – this post-shock pre-posturing – becomes the very medium of everyday life. The environment of life is increasingly lived as a diffuse and foreboding "threat environment". It is almost a relief when the next hit comes. It is only another bout of disaster that will enable the narrative balm to calm again the collective nerves of a humanity permanently on low-level boil.
1933 - 2014
Irina MaximovaTwenty-first Century Russian Poetry
Translated by Maria Khotimsky
One can also define the past through photographs:
Photographs capture the moments of hope.
People are walking hand in hand,
we think they are - a couple
or that they are - happy.
On some photographs
things exist that have never happened,
and that which will never be
looks like the past.
These unfortunate photographs
can be hidden from future wives.
Because we are all - alive,
and we are all - people,
and no one is here to protect us.
Unseen by each other.
* * *
Edited by Larissa Shmailo
b. October 23, 1898
Phrenomenology: Zahavi, Dennett and the End of Being
R. Scott Bakker
The structure that phenomenology best explains. For anyone who has spent long rainy afternoons pouring through the phenomenological canon, alternately amused and amazed by this or that interpretation of lived life, the notion that phenomenology is ‘mere bunk’ can only sound like ignorance. If the structures revealed by the phenomenological attitude aren’t ontological, then what else could they be?
This is what I propose to show: a radically different way of conceiving the ‘structures’ that motivate phenomenology. I happen to be the global eliminativist that Zahavi mistakenly accuses Dennett of being, and I also happen to have a fairly intimate understanding of the phenomenological attitude. I came by my eliminativism in the course of discovering an entirely new way to describe the structures revealed by the phenomenological attitude. The Transcendental Interpretation is no longer the only game in town.
Bay of Fundy
Occupy Precarity [pdf]
Sanford F. Schram
Judith Butler has theorized “precarity” as a fundamental condition of life and applied it to Occupy Wall Street. In this essay, I underscore the political significance Butler attaches to precarity in uniting diverse individuals experiencing the subjectivation associated with what Michel Foucault calls “neoliberal governmentality,” where people come to be identified as failing to successfully rely on their human capital in a market-centered society. I argue that precarity is not just a philosophical abstraction but an actually existing discursive practice operant in movement politics in recent years and serving as what Michael Shapiro calls an “action framework” constitutive of the people being represented by Occupy. I suggest that Occupy’s representation of precarity enacted via street theater performs a politics of spectacle consistent with the role of protest movements in the broader political process. We can see this once we integrate Butler’s work with the insights of Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward.
October 21, 2014
The Gay Science
R. B. Kitaj
d. October 21, 2007
Richard Marshall interviews Ofra Magidor
Ofra Magidor knows her days are not numbered but ochre underneath and that she’s the philosopher working out whether that is really true or not. She’s always thinking about category mistakes and about their two camps, about their relevance for linguistics and computer science, about what makes them odd, about why the idea that they’re syntactically ill-formed is wrong but more promising than some might think, about why they’re not meaningless, about why Wittgenstein is wrong on this, about the role of presuppositions, about pragmatism and semantics, about dynamic semantic theories, about truth-value gaps, about exciting projects in analytic philosophy and why women and non-whites are unrepresented in philosophy. Go sleep that pipe…
An absence of presence
Wisdom has it that we should try to live in the present. But what happens when the present is all we have, with no right to forget the past or to seek a better future? Such is the predicament of a modern world overwhelmed by choice and distraction, where living with real presence is hard work. Literary theorist Hans Gumbrecht explains the wrench of an ever-expanding present.
"Take this from this, if this be otherwise": an essay on literary minutiae.
How is it that a word so attuned to our presence in a single moment has led us to such a comedy of absence? Is there a way to return to the shock of our thisness in the world, after we’ve moved through the humbling uncertainties of these notable thises? After all, each this—digitized, arrayed, and quantified, as if in a gallery of pronominal butterflies—tells us very little about its life, even though it’s animated every time we eye it.
This dwells in the ephemeral; it passes. When not pinned down, it announces freedom from meaning and interpretation; it “designates, but keeps silent,” as Roland Barthes has written. So try as we might to classify that freedom, we are left without words. But is the presentist philosophy announced by every this ill equipped to fathom the very world that allows one to access and organize these instances? When we make this speak, from the depths of its massive archive, what is the terrible sound? Is it everything that literature seeks to avoid, or everything it seeks to say?
Mystery of the Street
The Alchemy of the World:
Rimbaud and Revolutionary Artifice
Brian Kim Stefans
(....)Journal of Poetics Research
While Rexroth’s misgivings — written in the heat of the Beat moment in 1957 — offer a valuable demystification of the life and work of the poet, Brecht’s earlier assessment provides rich ground for a consideration of Rimbaud’s work in relation to political thought. This essay compares Rimbaud’s conception of the ‘alchemy of the word’ with Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s idea of the ‘image-complex’ as she describes it in her 1978 study Poetic Artifice. Forrest-Thomson’s book provides a critical language for much of what is only implied in Rimbaud’s poem, in that it describes in semi-technical language the space of ‘non-meaning’ in a poem in which the worlds inside and outside a poem meet, while at the same time maintaining these dichotomies of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ — here and there — necessary for a theory of literary ‘alchemy.’ The work of American ‘language’ poets Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews is central to this argument, since their work is most singularly and directly concerned with the role the poet plays as arbiter of cultural values — whether as creator, destroyer, animator or aggravator.
OWS People's Library and Jorge Luis Borges
Radical Politics, Heterotopic Spaces, and the Practice of Hope
The permanency that participants seemed to be working toward that fall signaled an optimism that understandably shifted after the November raid. Jaime Taylor and Zachary Loeb, two original OWS librarians, write that while the library had a steady stream of foot traffic and contributions before and after the raid, after November 15 visitors typically "came with lamentations over the loss of the library proper rather than with book donations." Stephen Boyer, another OWS librarian and the OWS Poetry Anthology editor, later said, "we were all heartbroken mid-November, when the NYPD came and squashed the park." The fast rise and fall of the original People's Library installation was disheartening and signaled in many ways a loss of hope--not only for those directly involved, but also for like-minded and sympathetic readers across the U.S.
Despite this abrupt and negative end, the emergence of the People's Library is much too meaningful to file away as a short-lived footnote within the OWS narrative. It is a complex, uncanny space, and a turn toward the similarly uncanny fiction of Jorge Luis Borges may help us to better understand its significance. Borges's work can be read as a metaphorical precursor to the People's Library. Metaphor, as Borges tells us, is the tool with which writers have traditionally "disordered the rigid universe," a disordering that the People's Library also seems to work toward. Borges's stories and the People's Library both embody a particular convergence of variables, and the spaces that emerge force important questions about distributions of power and coping mechanisms in the face of external, uncontrollable, political currents. A deeper understanding of the connection between Borges and the People's Library may even affect the structure of hope with which we face politics in the 21st century.
1933 - 2014
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.