October 20, 2014
Old timber yard
1878 - 1953
Robert Walser: The Walk
from On Walking On
Forr Walser, a walk usually began by putting on a hat. Among a room of ghosts.
To the quiet end, if one could walk a lost. For Walser, to walk was to unfold
an origami bird as a door unfolds a world. If there was a child there, the sun spun,
and off he walked on that.
He knew that a planet, too, wanders, open, in a field of asters. And watched
the terror vanish, falling with the trees into darkness. You walk the dark to recall
a specific point in an argument in which you saw something delicate
fall apart. In fact, to pieces. Walser leaned down to pick something up from the
dusty road, and the dust, one by one, Walser thought the form of a road beautiful
in itself, citing that its joy exists outside of time, or rather beside it, so Walser
walked along the side of the road singing under his breath to the grass.
He thought a walk could be a masterpiece, which is a matter
of arrangement—the elements carefully chosen, a small hand,
another stand of trees, out of the corner of his eye, he saw
someone smiling. A walk brings things out, wraps them up
in glorious scents, holds them out at arms’ length and keeps
them there, just out of reach, perfecting the scene.
The shadowed hills: the Flinders Ranges_______________________
Variations on the Right to Remain Silent
Silence is as important as words in the practice and study of translation. This may sound like a cliché. (I think it is a cliché. Perhaps we can come back to cliché.) There are two kinds of silence that trouble a translator: physical silence and metaphysical silence. Physical silence happens when you are looking at, say, a poem of Sappho’s inscribed on a papyrus from two thousand years ago that has been torn in half. Half the poem is empty space. A translator can signify or even rectify this lack of text in various ways—with blankness or brackets or textual conjecture—and she is justified in doing so because Sappho did not intend that part of the poem to fall silent. Metaphysical silence happens inside words themselves. And its intentions are harder to define. Every translator knows the point where one language cannot be translated into another. Take the word cliché. Cliché is a French borrowing, past participle of the verb clicher, a term from printing meaning “to make a stereotype from a relief printing surface.” It has been assumed into English unchanged, partly because using French words makes English-speakers feel more intelligent and partly because the word has imitative origins (it is supposed to mimic the sound of the printer’s die striking the metal) that make it untranslatable. English has different sounds. English falls silent. This kind of linguistic decision is simply a measure of foreignness, an acknowledgment of the fact that languages are not sciences of one another, you cannot match them item for item. But now what if, within this silence, you discover a deeper one—a word that does not intend to be translatable.
via the page
October 17, 2014
Seascape Yellow Sky Brittany
b. October 17, 1860
The Meaning Of The Sea
1904 - 1941
translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale
to understand it once and for all
one must live life as in reverse
and to take walks in the forest
while tearing out your hair whole
and when you get to know the fire
of the light bulb or of the oven
say to it why are you shining
you the fire are candle’s master
what’s your meaning is it nothing
where’s the kettle where the cabinet
the demons whirl around like flies
circling above a piece of pie
and these spirits flash their eyes
hands and legs and horns and smiles
around the trees juicy beasts howl
the light bulbs twisting in their sleep
the silent children blow their horns
old women cry atop the evergreens
and the universal deity
stands in the celestial cemetery
and the ideal horse saunters
until finally the forest enters
Translation's homeopathic gesture
The body responds, but cannot ever forget or avoid its cellular infarction, movement or life below conscious choice. Its response is different to different texts, and to the same text at different intervals. The text always demands something of the body seated in front of it; it urges something from that body.
As translator, I respond to the urge of the text, its urgency. This involves my mind, which, like any mind, is acculturated, constructed by the culture in which it lives. Tripwire. In the words of Giorgio Agamben, the process is one of subjectivization and of desubjectivization at the same time. It is a process that cannot be fully controlled by society, however, because it passes through a human body.
The homeopathic gesture that propels translation comes from the interior heat of a set of cells. Outside of any theory of translation, these cells function. They renew the fibres of their DNA. Proteins. In the moment of translation, there is no theory possible. Only this relation of light and cell which has a homeopathic influence on the language that results.
From Thomas Bernhard’s novel Wittgenstein’s Nephew
I do not care for walks either, and have been a reluctant walker all my life. I have always disliked walking, but I am prepared to go for walks with friends, and this makes them think I am a keen walker, for there is an amazing theatricality about the way I walk. I am certainly not a keen walker, nor am I a nature lover or a nature expert. But when I am with friends I walk in such a way as to convince them I am a keen walker, a nature lover, and a nature expert. I know nothing about nature. I hate nature, because it is killing me. I live in the country only because the doctors have told me that I must live in the country if I want to survive—for no other reason. In fact I love everything except nature, which I find sinister; I have become familiar with the malignity and implacability of nature through the way it has dealt with my own body and soul, and being unable to contemplate the beauties of nature without at the same time contemplating its malignity and implacability, I fear it and avoid it whenever I can. The truth is that I am a city dweller who can at best tolerate nature. It is only with reluctance that I live in the country, which on the whole I find hostile.
Brooke Ellsworth’s Thrown: A Translation
Translation isn’t only the process of converting words or text from one language to another. Translation is transformation. In Thrown: A Translation, poet Brooke Ellsworth explores the myriad ways we convey both classic myths and ourselves. Drawing on the Roman poet Ovid’s tale of Echo and Narcissus, Ellsworth begins to delineate her multivarious take on translation in the first poem of the collection, “In Nova,” the reader’s guide to her chapbook. “Nova,” the feminine of “novus,” is Latin for “new star,” an extant star that shines brightly to declare its apparent newness only to fade out and return to its original form._______________________
Asymptote - October 2014
from The Circle's Spell
Marcelo Morales Cintero
translated from the Spanish by Kristin Dykstra
Writing things is the way to release oppression from the idea of death, of anonymity.
I write because I'm going to die. Sometimes in life I'm inside scenes, I move through dirty hallways, make my way through puddles in streets. Eyes reviewing reality, I don't know how long I'll look at these surfaces. It's too strange for existence.
Photography tenses light. This is the poem too. The great moments are impressions, like Hume's flame. We recall intensity. That's it in the end: life. Moments of tension. The rest a great calm equal to a great nothingness. To a death you forget.
I came to a realization today when I walked into the kitchen. Things acquired the status of symbols, which happens in my life when things enter a poetic state. In those moments I'm a stranger.
For me poetry is only possible as fragment, as tension. Like the flash from a camera, like the photo resolving out of light printed on darkness.
I think about the unbelievable web of presences that precede my own. The infinite connectivity of events and lives making it possible for me to take forward steps. To see a building's dirty walls, an ugly park between two houses. Life has the aura of a miracle. I don't know, won't ever know if it's accidental or not. There's no way to find out. In these cases a yes is worth the same as a no.
October 15, 2014
I Read Because it is Absurd
Rewiring the Real
Vanwesenbeeck situates Mark Taylor’s recent Rewiring the Real, within a growing body of critical literature (which also includes John McClure’s Partial Faiths and Amy Hungerford’s Postmodern Belief) that regards religion as key to a robust account of postmodern culture—and for Taylor, in particular, as key to appreciating the novels of William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo
Although some literary critics will cringe at the inflation of superlatives in Rewiring the Real or at the at times tiresome regurgitation of critical commonplaces (signifier-signified; uncanny) there is much here that warrants reading and re-reading. The inclusion of The Recognitions —so glaringly absent from McClure’s and Hungerford’s analyses—is a welcome addition to the debate on postmodern religiosity. So is the seemingly counterintuitive theological discourse through which Taylor has opted to approach these works. According to Taylor, what characterizes these novels is the pressing sense that reality is elsewhere, that the machines and technologies that we produce and peruse leave in their wake a form of transcendent longing that can never be fulfilled. The dream of virtual reality in Plowing the Dark; the inability to distinguish copies from originals in The Recognitions; the haunted house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside in House of Leaves; all of these are examples of how “the real, however it is figured, is always slipping away”.
In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo
Mark C. Taylor
Buchenwald in November
The Intrinsic Madness of Consciousness?
We create synthetic caricatures of experienced realities using symbolic tokens and language to manifest images and narratives about the Real. Thus, we enact a massive, near universally delusion epistemic cognitive detachment from the world with various and mixed results for survival and adaptation. Sometimes we use this detachment to contemplate and imagine and innovate, in other cases we project our fears and nightmares via a multitude of violent acts and collective insanities. At times symbolically achieved sapience has served individuals and collectives well, at other times it drives us off the brink of sustainability and appropriateness.
(School in Aachen)
Žižek and the Paradoxical Metaphysics of German Idealism
This book is an investigation into Slavoj Žižek's return to German Idealism in the wake of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Its thematic crux is Žižek's attempt to develop, by reading the traditions against one another by means of their mutually compatible notions of Todestrieb, a highly original theory of subjectivity able to explain the subject's simultaneous freedom from and dependence upon its material ground. But it does not stop there: rather than just limiting itself to a recapitulation of Žižek's account of the eruptive, ontologically devastating birth of subjectivity out of nature, it also seeks to systematize the stark metaphysical consequences of this account. The fundamental thesis of this book is that, if the emergence of the Symbolic out of the Real—the passage from nature to culture enacted by the founding gesture of subjectivity—is the advent of a completely self-enclosed, self-sustaining structural system, then not only must its founding gesture withdraw from the scene in the very act of instituting the Symbolic, but further, even to explain this act we must posit the absolute as a fragile not-all wrought by negativity and antagonism. Or, to put it in terms of Žižek's Less Than Nothing (his latest magnum opus, or “big fat Hegel book,” as he says), as a series of less than nothings whose essence constitutes an ontologically incomplete field._______________________
Hamburg, Port c. 1929
October 14, 2014
Avenue du Commandeur
(de la rue d'Alésia)
(1813 – 1879)
Stephen Yablo is the Magilla Gorilla philosophikilla who thinks all the time about ontologies and metaphysics and ontologeses and metametaphysics too, about essentialism, about whether intrinsic is intrinsic to essentialism, about fictionalism and evolving to presuppositionalism, about why conceivability is a guide to possibility, why zembos are harder to get rid of than zombies, about aboutness, about subtraction and about a Wittgenstein thing and other cool stuff. This one is the Ali shuffle thought of via its opposite, only in a mouth
Richard Marshall interviews Stephen Yablo
... one kind of philosopher is curious about what exists and seeks a way of finding out. Another kind, the quizzicalist, thinks that at least some existence-questions are objectively moot. difficult. Moritz Schlick and Susan Stebbing in the 1930s gave “is blue more identical than music?’’ as an example.
Linguists interested in the autonomy of syntax used to dig around for grammatical statements that were nevertheless not interpretable. Chomsky’s “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” never impressed me that much. I prefer an example that came up a few years ago on the blog Language Log: “More people have been to Germany than I have.” This sounds fine until we try to evaluate it, and realize that a comparison is called for between the number of people who have been to Germany and….what? Amie Thomasson, who is no quizzicalist, suggests “Do Dell computers help you get more out of now?” Quizzicalism is apt to seem unmotivated. Many people would say that they agree either with Carnap that of course there are numbers, since there are primes over ten, or with Quine that it’s a empirical question whose answer depends on whether numbers find a permanent place in the range of our quantifiers.
The funny thing is that Carnap is speaking about a rational reconstruction of English with “framework rules” taking the place of what is actually done by habit. And Quine is talking about a first order regimentation of English. They insist on the reconstruction/regimentation because they themselves can’t make sense of “are there numbers?” as it arises in ordinary English. (Compare also Sider on Ontologese.) Quine and Carnap are really themselves quizzicalists, then, arguably, just like me.
Of course we might differ on whether regimentation allows for a useful successor question to “are there numbers?” And on how curious we propose to be about the answer to that. But that is not the question of quizzicalism as I understand it. One could also rationally reconstruct talk of heaps so that it takes exactly 4 grains of sand to make a heap, or maybe 11. But we don’t believe in a shining, resplendent question of true heapiness waiting that will reveal itself when we clean up our act. That’s how I feel about (some) existence questions.
The knowledge we gathered is no longer useful.
The system you understand shifts and makes no sense.
And this is the body you spent years getting used to.
Tomorrow, the light will not recognize it.
Light has no language for it.
Light has no language for what is smaller than a hairpin turn of a chromatin.
Light must be choked in order to name the smaller things.
My name could change.
We shall say what we shall say and call it knowledge
with this our native speech.
I learned this language to subsist and to compass between myself
and the unknown.
I should not have learned it.
I should have been a fish in a world of rising water, boring
in with immense color until it seems that it was never knowledge
that was gained from the set of things as they are, having been now
turned from by the world
and yet still a knowledge,
a trust that can’t be turned from,
trust in the thing that is an inhabitance of it
of the only thing I am standing on and not
just the dirt slitted with plant roots and leaf stains made up of mashed
chlorophyll pigments, drying up now, pregnant still with incidental light
and nothing to pass it on to
here in the stomach of the beast
punched open to the ceiling lights.
These aren’t our salad days.
(The thing that is understood becoming the thing that is loved.)
(The objective lens made from glass.)
(And the glass melting in due time.)
On Ambivalence: A Manifestish
Two-headed feelings each have their own brains, which is the characteristic that differentiates them from two-faced feelings. The condition of two-headedness in feelings is most often caused by a developmental trauma to the nervous system. One feeling is the weaker one, due to malformation or poor development. Neither physicians nor philosophers have discerned if this sensation is one feeling with two heads or two separate feelings sharing one body. The stronger head of the two-headed feeling will eventually attack and attempt to swallow the weaker one. Sometimes fear is the stronger feeling, sometimes desire. The dictionary describes shock as “an encounter between two hostile forces.”_______________________
My etymology book explains “terror is stranger than horror but it lasts for a shorter time.” What makes terror stranger than horror? The following symptoms: paralysis, shortness of breath, a panicked racing in the brain. Horror, in contrast, slows time down, washes over you, which is why it lasts longer. Terror is an ice bath, horror is a blood bath.
The word success originally meant result, either good or bad.
Essay is from the French, meaning an attempt; to try.
I am terrified of writing; I am horrified by not writing. Here comes the axe toward the camera, pan out to the blonde in the bathtub.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview
People don’t experience music totally online. It happens in people’s homes, in exchanges at record stores and shows, and in people’s brains. Our brains are not on the internet – maybe one day they will be, I don’t know — but our lives, our souls, and the music that we experience, the music that people have valuable experiences …the owners of Google might have us believe that everything is on the internet, but it’s amazing how shortsighted and amazingly false that is, especially for a company that claims to have its users welfare at the beginning and end of all its decisions. [Laughs]
There was an owl in my yard, and I have this little dog that’s like seven pounds, and then there’s this huge owl out there I’ve never seen before [with my dog]. The next morning I woke up and was reading an article that had that phrase in it – “Everything is on the internet” – and I thought, “You know, that owl isn’t on the internet.” We’re taught to believe that they are putting more and more things in our cars, in our phones, our computers, and that they are doing us the favor of separating the wheat from the chaff, but really the chaff is online, and the real shit is out here for us to partake in without anybody fucking with us. words.