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.
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.