April 15, 2014
view looking southwest
November 28, 1910
Eugene de Salignac
Three Berlin Essays
translated by Brian Henry
When someone’s presence on the street becomes imperceptible as the presence of the street becomes imperceptible in this person. Mommsenstraße, Kastanienallee, Akazienstraße have moved to the shady side, to the side of obvious everyday life, going from admiration of exceptional things to inventory. Within the least expected lurks alienation, which demonstrates that it is only for the illusion of tradition, the illusion, that keeps my attention on a short leash. Sometimes it is enough that some bored dog barks. Midflinch I see at the intersection an excursion bus. A tourist guide with microphone in hand eagerly explains. I cannot hear the words, but I have a feeling I know everything she relates. Facing forward alongside the driver, with a gaze firmly directed through the front pane. This guide is me. Since I left the apartment, this continuous speech is performed in me. I speak and speak, without a dictionary and a map, aimlessly loafing. Only when the bus moves forward do I notice that it’s empty, except for the driver and guide in the bus there is no one the relating would be intended for, no one in this city of three and a half million who would hear what I speak and speak, only my footsteps and my monologue.
b. April 15, 1904
Since I must hold to the gradual in
this, as no revolution but a slow change
like the image of snow. The challenge is
not a moral excitement, but the expanse,
the continuing patience
dilating into forms so
much more than compact.
I would probably not even choose to inhabit the
wish as delay: it really is dark and the knowledge
of the unseen is a warmth which spreads into
the level ceremony of diffusion. The quiet
suggests that the act taken
extends so much further, there
is this insurgence of form:
we are more pliant than the mercantile notion
of choice will determine-we go in this way
on and on and the unceasing image of hope
is our place in the world. ...
Prynne week: Biting the Air
And this is the final three stanzas of the sixth poem:
told to you, root and branch slope management
There’s gloriously complex things that appear to be going on here. Starting with the obvious ‘medical’ words: pharmaceutical, flatline, infirm, generic, rib, lips, vaccine and life exemption- I’m taking this to indicate that the poem is making direct comment on the issues that beset modern medicine rather than using this particular malaise to talk about something else. Of course, he may be doing both but I’m going to stick with medicine as medicine for the moment.
at onrush unpaired and less compact, generic death
as possession on nil return. Which way the novice
points trail off, they say the same on the block
new level rib, spit your lips. Be quick, be
long to pump anger revivalism, percolate thick
forest scarps dug yet deeper. Get a vaccine on
shipment perish thread your face why yours
if told more, stable on a tilted capital feed
suspected more often. Give out a version amplified
with strings to obligate a boundary check, felt
damp echo ethic manipulate its life exemption.
Little Neck Bridge
Eugene de Salignac
Mental Ears and Poetic Work [pdf]
J. H. Prynne
The poet works with mental ears. Via this specialized audition the real-time sounds of speech and vocalized utterance are disintegrated into sub-lexical acoustic noise by analogy with the striking clatter of real work in the material world. Plus also bird-song, weather sounds, and the cognates. From this first reduction the array of voice-sounds can then be transposed into a textual constellation in which composi- tional purpose begins to remake the anecdotal variety of actual speech. By this means the sociology of utterance-occasions is part-replaced by the textuality of a language domain.^ All human speech performance operates by hybridizing the components of possible word narratives; but the textual domain is an intermediary condition very specific to poetic work."* This domain is constructed from the realized human sounds of words in voluble sequence, utterance as carried through to expression by the apportionment of phrase and sentence and the paragraph or strophic boundaries of their profession, the mental span of serial completions.' Written discourse projects into a representa- tional text-composure the altered acoustics of speech events, real and conjectural. But the discourse of poetry installs a variable set of yet further dimensions.
Jeremy Prynne lectures on Maximus IV, V, VI 1 2
Simon Fraser University, July 27, 1971
Transcribed by Tom McGauley
An Introduction to the Poetry of J.H.Prynne
by Rod Mengham and John Kinsella
J. H. Prynne's POEMS
The Right to be Unidentified with This Work
"Scheming for the possible world":
J.H. Prynne's The White Stones and The English Intelligencer
Reactualising the Unfigurable:
Difficulty and Resistance in Translating J. H. Prynne
This paper explores aspects of translating J. H. Prynne's poetry into Chinese in relation to notions of difficulty and resistance. Through juxtaposing two poems by Prynne and the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu, the paper argues that translating Prynne alerts the reader-translator to the very nature of poetic figuration. Poetic writing and translating have to do with (re)imagining the actual as contingent possibilities of the real, which is in principle not fully accessible or figurable. The in-betweenness of the two languages in translation constitutes an outside to both. The relative autonomy of this non-place encourages intercultural translation as a potentialisation of the actual.
Good Hope Road
We Are All Very Anxious
Theses on Anxiety and Why It is Effectively Preventing Militancy, and One Possible Strategy for Overcoming It
Reposted with the kind permission of the Institute for Precarious Consciousness
The nervousness of politics
Precarity is a machine for anxiety; austerity is a machine for making-vulnerable; psychopathology is the machinery of alienation.
The article links anxiety to precarity, correctly pointing out that anxiety is the obvious affective response to a systemic uncertainty and fears that lack concrete objects. It also links it to securitisation, but I think we should also link it to the related militarisation of urban spaces and, beyond that, to the climate of catastrophe in which we live. There are how many impending disasters on the horizon? Not one we can respond to as bodies that experience a collective threat as individual.
I've written about TMT (Terror Management Theory) elsewhere and I intend to return to it on here, as I think it is invaluable to understanding our ontological vulnerability and to the development of an anarchist theory of psychology. Consider what the TMT researchers found in the wake of 9/11, a moment of "mortality salience" and death anxiety on a cultural and national scale. In response to the greatest trauma on the American psyche in recent history the response was an increase in a fervent nationalism, increased intolerance of dissent, more hostility and violence towards people who are different, a desire for revenge and a need to find heroes (whether they be American soldiers going out for revenege, or the firefighters at the scene of the devastation), as well as a desire to help in the cause. In a chapter for a (hopefully) forthcoming book I've written on how capital and governments like to expose us to anxiogenic conditions, to expose us to our vulnerability, in order to illicit precisely these effects. This is the necropolitical side of biopolitics and to my mind it is this that current strategies of the decomposition of labour aim at: the capture, intensification and even production of anxiety.
A popular unconscious admission today: keep calm and carry on. Keep calm: This is how the open secret of anxiety, of nerves, and the injunction to destimulate is expressed today. Even our despair is sold back to us; even the recovery of our nervous systems. Carry on: stay in the holding pattern of your safety behaviours, don't go too far, don't go astray. The denial of anxiety and the denial of communism displaced and compressed into one compact knotted slogan.At the moment I'm working with others to create an online space for a new militant mental health movement, and to set up something similar to the Institute for Precarious Consciousness.
Anarchism’s Other Scene: Materializing the Ideal and Idealizing the Material
Duane Rousselle, Jason Adams
Ontological Anarché: Beyond Materialism and Idealism
Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies
No 2 (2013)
April 14, 2014
“The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns, the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks, the tears, the skelps, and the yelps.”
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
b. April 13, 1906
“Unfortunately I am afraid, as always, of going on. For to go on means going from here, means finding me, losing me, vanishing and beginning again, a stranger first, then little by little the same as always, in another place, where I shall say I have always been, of which I shall know nothing, being incapable of seeing, moving, thinking, speaking, but of which little by little, in spite of these handicaps, I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always, the same which seems made for me and does not want me, which I seem to want and do not want, take your choice, which spews me out or swallows me up, I’ll never know, which is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hands, my feet, my back, and ever murmuring my old stories, my old story, as if it were the first time.”
Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
b. April 12, 1885
Levi R. Bryant: First Impressions on Onto-Cartography
Onto-Cartography: An Ontology of Machines and Media
Realizing that the basic stuff of reality impacts not only our relations but all relations human or inhuman he opened his materialist eyes toward new ways of relating things. Over the years Levi has used several sliding terms to describe what things are, what the basic stuff of materialism is. But he was never truly satisfied so he came to the conclusion that he’d get out of the business of naming this object and leave our actual understanding of the basic units of matter to the appropriate domain of knowledge: science, and physics in particular. Instead he would deal with both the corporeal and incorporeal modes or forms within which matter structured or coupled itself. This is where his notions of machines comes in. He incorporates Ian Bogost’s notions of an alien phenomenology in which machines engage and interact with each other and ecologies within a milieu, and environment. There is not just one type of machine but a myriad, and because of this machines exist at different levels of reality and have an ontology that both constrains and affords these machines certain paths of possible interaction or movement. Because of this machine ontology is best understood as discovering the different ways these machines not only interact coupling and decoupling with each other, but also describing their operations, their input/outputs of flows of information, matter, and material incorporated within their activities.
The major thrust of his work is to provide a mapping (Onto-Cartography) of these machine assemblages or ecologies across a spectrum of geophilosophical notions: cartography, deconstruction, and terraformation. Under cartography he provides four distinct types of map: cartographical maps, genetic maps, vector maps, and modal maps. Under deconstruction he offers traditional reading with an emphasis on the politics of oppression. And, under terraformation he offers a vision of worlds or ecologies or heterotopias: “alternatives that would allow people to escape the oppressive circumstances in which they live”.
Levi R. Bryant
For a Renewal of
Introduction to Onto-Cartography
The Gravity of Things: [pdf]_______________________
Levi R. Bryant
b. April 13, 1860
Climate change and post-politics: [pdf]
Repoliticizing the present by imagining the future?
Anneleen Kenis and Erik Mathijs
...to create a space for imagining alternative futures, one must first fight post-political representations of the present. However, when politicization becomes an end in itself, the outreach of the movement, and therefore its capacity to repoliticize and stimulate the imagination of alternative futures, is constrained.
Climate Crisis, Ideology, and Collective Action
... given the imminent prospect of severe climate disruption, why
as yet has there occurred relatively little collective action in response?
Psychologist Daniel Gilbert thought he had the answer. In an opinion
piece provocatively titled “If Only Gay Sex Caused Global Warming”
that the real psychological obstacle to effective action on
climate change is that human brains have evolved to deal most effectively
with threats that:
• are intentional and personal; Unfortunately, as Greg Craven has noted, climate change has none
of these properties; “[i]t is impersonal, morally neutral, in the future, and
gradual, and we’re just not wired to watch out for stuff like that.”
• violate our moral sensibilities;
• are a clear and present danger; and
• involve quick changes rather than gradual changes
Call climate change what it is: violence
If you're poor, the only way you're likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car._______________________
But if you're tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you're the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.
So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.
... if we want to talk about violence and climate change – and we are talking about it, after last week's horrifying report from the world's top climate scientists – then let's talk about climate change as violence. Rather than worrying about whether ordinary human beings will react turbulently to the destruction of the very means of their survival, let's worry about that destruction – and their survival. Of course water failure, crop failure, flooding and more will lead to mass migration and climate refugees – they already have – and this will lead to conflict. Those conflicts are being set in motion now.
The Beach of Le Havre
Emilio Grau Sala
There was something more than a principle I abandoned, when I abandoned the equal distribution, it was a bodily need. But to suck the stones in the way I have described, not haphazard, but with method, was also I think a bodily need. Here then were two incompatible bodily needs, at loggerheads. Such things happen. But deep down I didn't give a tinker's curse about being off my balance, dragged to the right hand and the left, backwards and forewards. And deep down it was all the same to me whether I sucked a different stone each time or always the same stone, until the end of time. For they all tasted exactly the same. And if I had collected sixteen, it was not in order to ballast myself in such and such a way, or to suck them turn about, but simply to have a little store, so as never to be without. But deep down I didn't give a fiddler's curse about being without, when they were all gone they would be all gone, I wouldn't be any the worse off, or hardly any. And the solution to which I rallied in the end was to throw away all the stones but one, which I kept now in one pocket, now in another, and which of course I soon lost, or threw away, or gave away, or swallowed ...
April 11, 2014
Tunneling through the self
On Hoa Nguyen's 'As Long as Trees Last'
Living with As Long as Trees Last, Hoa Nguyen’s latest collection of poetry, is akin to living with Charles Olson — his endless exuberance, wide-ranging curiosity, and aesthetic agility, as well as his famous invocation of the body as a tunnel through which one must go to know more truly the self and the world around it. “Down through the workings of [the poet’s] own throat to that place where breath comes from,” he writes in Projective Verse, is the path to becoming “participant in the larger force.”
Living with As Long as Trees Last is also akin to living with John Cage — the attention to silence, to the music of reality, to the harmonies and disharmonies that make a life. I think of the presence evoked by his work, of being present to the world, bringing one’s instruments to the stage of the world and allowing the world to play.
Olson and Cage are present in As Long as Trees Last on every page, egging on Nguyen from behind the stage, giving her the theoretical foundation upon which she builds and builds and builds her own vision, one marked by the harmonies and disharmonies of language, thought, and feeling that she reached down into herself to get. The discordant bells of jagged syntax and juxtaposed imagery ring often in the book, discordant in the way a life is lived with anxiety and ferocity, but these bells that ring discordantly also ring true. They ring true in the way Cage’s work rings those everyday sounds, allowing presence and attunement to the oft-neglected disharmonies of reality, but with Olson’s exuberance and his boundless will to break the self off into pieces of the outside world.
some poems by Hoa Nguyen
1 2 3
Hoa Nguyen’s “As Long As Trees Last”
reviewed by Dana Drori
Hoa Nguyen on remaining inside mysteries and the alien alphabets of dreams
A conversation with Hoa Nguyen part 1
As Long As Trees Last By Hoa Nguyen
Reviewed by Dan Shewan
b. April 11, 1893
“Escaping melancholia is as unnatural as fasting or chastity. It is Culture along with the powers that be who have convinced us that smiling, which, as everyone knows, not only feels but also looks unnatural, is the face’s most positive expression. Chasing Culture’s promise of Happiness—a mirage, at best—is as ludicrous and destined to failure as those imbecile rodents who follow each other off a cliff.”
Pablo Piñero Stillmann
As much as it might seem incredible to someone like you or I, happiness, wait, Happiness, hasn’t always had a positive connotation for everyone. This will be easier to accept if you consider that no one thing has been anything, always, for everyone. Most things have been many things for at least some people. Nothing has at times meant Everything and at others meant Some Things. For long stretches of time Nothing actually meant nothing. But I must stop myself because I have the tendency to spin uncontrollably into spirals of confusion and—sometimes—complete nonsense._______________________
Translated from the French by Joshua Clover.
For those who persist “like” Rimbaud, after the flood, in the hive-chaos of big cities, modern industrial and postindustrial societies, those of the western “democratic” empire, the leading sentiment remains that results from the fact that democracy signifies for the moment capitalism, the regime of liberty and liberalism (work, finance, exploitation, profit) — and this democratic capitalism, the polluted air which we breathe, moreover appears as the ultimate and definitive, and for that matter “natural,” form of social life. There is, there will have been, no alternative. Thus the necessity to qualify, to specify: parliamentary, or rather, today, mediatic-parliamentary, democracy, liberal democracy, but also, because quotation marks are there if we try to retrieve, that is to say reappropriate, the word and the thing, “true democracy,” as Marx said, or “wild democracy,” or “radical democracy,” or “insurgent democracy” (as Miguel Abensour suggested, democracy in a permanent state of emergence and constructive critique), or even “democracy without limits” as proposed by Rosa Luxemburg in opposition to “bourgeois democracy.” She subjected “democracy” under quotation marks to an examination of limits and internal contradictions wherein she observed, as did Rimbaud, two closely linked antidemocratic dimensions: militarism and colonialism, the importance of the military apparatus being linked on the one hand to the containment and repression of popular insurrectionary movements, and on the other hand to imposing on the colonized by force of arms the benefits of western economic exploitation and domination.
Thus there is for those, among whom I am one, who continue to read and write within that which we name poetry (that is to say, who situate themselves marginally within the practice of literature itself grown culturally secondary and minor), essentially the consciousness of not being much in phase with democracy as ambient value, as political ideology and as form of government, the feeling of being in no regard represented by the professional politicians and others who themselves are manipulated and ventriloquized by the holds of real power (that of the globalized economy), and with an insuperable sense of paralysis or choking powerlessness. The words slide around, it is enough just to listen.
video from The Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture
Wendy Brown, Governmentality in the Age of Neoliberalism
Vanishing Surveillance: Securityscapes and Ambient Government
Wendy Brown and Arthur Kroker: A Conversation
David Murakami Wood
Frontispiece for the Book of the Tree
What Happened to Canada?
“You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it.”
These are not changes born in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people, but an agenda designed and implemented from above, articulated in an imported conservative ideology, to abet the interests of private industry. Some of that agenda, like the shocking attack on Canada’s environmental research community, has been implemented so swiftly and unilaterally that the public is just now catching up. Other aspects, like the undermining of the country’s universal health care system, have been imposed more gradually, a death by a thousand cuts combined with a relentless propaganda campaign.
What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse.
Still, the drastic turn in Canadian politics and policy raises some urgent questions. Why hasn’t the population stopped the attack on its public services? Why have left-leaning parties lost ground at the polls while Harper and his ilk continue getting reelected? Why, in a society with a more collectively oriented spirit, has the political discourse taken a sharp turn to the right?
via empty bottle_______________________
Voter Suppression in Canada
Kant, Nietzsche and the idealization of friendship into nihilism
Paul van Tongeren
Is friendship still possible under nihilistic conditions? Kant and Nietzsche are important stages in the history of the idealization of friendship, which leads inevitably to the problem of nihilism. Nietzsche himself claims on the one hand that only something like friendship can save us in our nihilistic condition, but on the other hand that precisely friendship has been unmasked and become impossible by these very conditions. It seems we are struck in the nihilistic paradox of not being allowed to believe in the possibility of what we cannot do without. Literary imagination since the 19th century seems to make us even more skeptical. Maybe Beckett provides an illustration of a way out that fits well to Nietzsche's claim that only "the most moderate, those who do not require any extreme articles of faith" will be able to cope with nihilism.
April 10, 2014
1894 - 1982
Book of Wander
W. G. Sebald's unsystematic search
Reading these novels and his first to be translated into English, The Emigrants, was a high point in many people’s cultural life. If you’re someone who hears the tones of W. G. Sebald’s voice at all, it is hard to keep from coming hopelessly under its sway. His quivering sensitivity and thoughtful melancholy seemed to express, like nothing else, what life at the end of the twentieth century meant for anyone aware of the holocausts underlying the various triumphalisms one was expected to get on board with. Not everyone can eagerly turn their face away from the devastating past and toward the super-duper future, and for those of us who couldn’t, Sebald offered irresistible arias of historical aftermath. (A math is a mowing, so aftermath encodes a specific image, which Sebald used, of sheaves laid low, scythed down in the field. It used to be a positive word, referring to a second harvest the same season—not anymore.)
... Sebald never just found connections or followed links; he made them, made them new. Sebald’s work is not encyclopedic, because it lacks any drive for totality or pretense of completeness—he follows whim, goes wherever things take him. In an interview, Sebald described his process this way:
It’s a form of unsystematic searching. . . . One thing takes you to another, and you make something out of these haphazardly assembled materials. And, as they have been assembled in this random fashion, you have to strain your imagination in order to create a connection between the two things. If you look for things that are like the things that you have looked for before, then, obviously, they’ll connect up. But they’ll only connect up in an obvious sort of way, which actually isn’t, in terms of writing something new, very productive.
The poet and translator Anne Carson once said something similar: “The things you think of to link are not in your own control. It’s just who you are, bumping into the world. But how you link them is what shows the nature of your mind.” Unsystematic searching, idiosyncratic linking: These are valuable as ever but harder to get to now, swamped as they are by the other kind. To the challenge of making imaginative connections has been added the challenge of making them visibly our own, off the preprogrammed, data-mined, hyperlinked grid.
Strange how we go on looking in the lessening
light, along the highway, looking for the things thieves pitched
from the smashed windows of our van as they drove and rifled through:
maps, gospel cassettes, ball gloves, receipts and sermon notes,
sleeping bag and candles scattered over miles, deemed
worthless, the ditches deep with grass, unmown. We’re steeped
in the overrun, the laid low, the pooled and going nowhere,
in the tremolo of early evening, mint-tinged,
damp to the knees, even weeds and beer cans gleam
as if belonging here: we are intent, walking
without speaking, bending to gather each thing
as if it had a broken wing, might have flown but landed
wounded in the tall grass, beating. Strange how we go on
as if things matter, as if this were a place
where something essential could be found.
Cars blow by. A whistling cowbird bends
a tattered reed. We follow the light-licked
papers sailing above the grass, the field encroaching,
last winter’s road-salt leaching down.
Deepwater Vee reviewed by rob mclennan_______________________
One + One = Zero – Vanishing Text in Electronic Literature
Marjorie C. Luesebrink
In “One + One = Zero,” Marjorie C. Luesebrink discusses “fleeting” messages and their implications for electronic literature. Beginning with a discussion of the popular social media app, Snapchat, Luesebrink considers a series of works of electronic literature that employ tropes of vanishing and inaccessibility to represent forgetfulness, limited perception, and the challenges posed by dynamic environments for contemporary readers. After tracing a path through two decades of digital practice, Luesebrink points to a future in which the vanishing text will continue to be a relevant site for literary innovation.
E-Literary Text in the Nomadic Cockpit
In this essay, Janez Strehovec explores the literary from the “nomadic cockpit” everyday life in the 21st Century. More than merely being cocooned by screens, Strehovec’s metaphor describes the way in which our travel through the environment is layered with navigational data, environmental surveillance, communication systems, and tied into a dynamic feedback loop. From this vantage point, Strehovec considers a number of works of digital art and electronic literature that are written precisely to be read in motion, to explore the sensations of life in the nomadic cockpit.
The Internet’s Endless Argument and the New Shape of Debate
... as I watch the kinds of people who seem forced to endure arguments with others—namely, women, people of colour, and other activists—I get the sense that the rules of rhetoric laid down by folk like Aristotle are especially unsuited to Twitter. More interestingly, though, maybe watching people on Twitter invent new rhetorical tactics suggests that what’s wrong with online discourse isn’t that it is hampered by constraint, but that there isn’t enough of it._______________________
After all, if you had to characterize Internet debate in one word, it would be “endless.” Free of the limits of time, space, and the need to look someone else in the eye, Internet argumentation has no natural stopping point, instead only ending when someone finally cries uncle. That unlimited space often gives rise to a kind of debate that works through attrition of attention and energy. “Here, let me ceaselessly argue and nitpick not only the topic at hand,” says the Internet debater, “but also every step of how you arrived at your position.” It’s a kind of hyper-ad hominem that, especially when you’ve been doing it for a few years, can make arguing online feel like an exercise in futility.
As a result, it’s hard not to get the feeling that the application of pre-Internet rhetoric—the sort espoused by our Greek friend himself—simply doesn’t work well within a medium without limits.
by Melanie Siebert
Winner of Lemon Hound's First Poetry Prize
Thereafter the northern plains would be cattle country.
I had paid off my younger self speaking of the highly contaminated water.
The dust was slaloming through the postmodern footnotes.
The sandhill cranes etc had refused treatment.