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50-Watts
September 02, 2014

Coming to School
Vernon Everett Duroc
circa 1920

Pictorial Photography in America 1920



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Susan Briante : THE PHYSICISTS SAY THE UNIVERSE MIGHT BE

a projection on the edge of a screen shadows by the door
or the boundary between the Muskogee and Cherokee nations
more nothing than anything else
smash the smallest parts to see if nothingness breaks
but there must be another way there’s no reason
in the cosmic order to necessitate human existence
no equation to explain the little arrows
at the end of my fingers—a plate glass above all that I do
and you hold the grease pencil and you move the shipping containers
across the horizon like a sentence about to be said: this morning
I saw the word “dog” in a hair left in the bathtub
and no matter how I turned could not get it to read “god”

Tuesday poem #42 in DUSIE

Interview with Susan Briante

(....)

When I was writing my first book, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, I was really interested in the fragment. After six years in Mexico, there were many stories I wanted to tell, but I knew I was writing in the complicated wake of many other traveler/writers. Instead of trying to tell a story—to offer a version of Mexico—I found myself thinking about the field note: non-linear, observation-based, provisional and speculative—much like the best poems. Rosmarie Waldrop writes: “The glint of light on the cut, this spark given off by the edges is what I am after.” In many of the poems of Pioneers in the Study of Motion, I wanted to use juxtaposition to create sparks like those you see in the contact between two metals—the conquers’ sword and warriors’ shield—or the smoke sometimes observed when the wheels of a plane touch down on the runway. I hoped juxtaposition would draw the reader’s attention to the poem’s surface lest they be fooled into believing they might actually be seeing Mexico rather than a glimpse of my mind.

Before I started writing the poems that would become Utopia Minus, I was reading WG Sebald’s Rings of Saturn. In that book, Sebald proposes to take readers on walks through the English countryside, but actually he creates a journey through syntax and thought and history. Likewise, I wanted my poems to start from a fixed place—a building (often abandoned), a batholith in the Texas Hill Country—but I wanted to challenge myself as to the intellectual distance I could traverse without resorting to collage. I wanted to walk through these thoughts. I love falling asleep somewhere over Kansas and waking up on the tarmac in San Francisco. But I also relish the process of taking things mile by mile, word by word, to notice every historical marker, strip mall, roadside curiosity, to savor every preposition, verb, clause.

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Bopping At Birdland
(Stomp Time)
Romare Bearden
b. September 2, 1911

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Nigun Poems & Poetics
Jake Marmer
Nigun Au Rebours

this song is not an act but erasure
the way other songs reach into you
this one retreats,
taking with it stuff that seemed nailed to the floor
this song is cinematic in its reel
you may find yourself humming its residue
you may wonder who you’re
feeding—
through the song’s straw that ascends
to the pouting mouth
of the vanishing point
Jake Marmer's Bop Apocalypse
Poetry, Philosophy, Existential Rants

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Proust’s Questionnaire
John Ashbery

(....)

It’s a question of questions, first:
The nuts-and-bolts kind you know you can answer
And the impersonal ones you answer almost without meaning to:
“My greatest regret.” “What keeps the world from falling down.”
And then the results are brilliant:
Someone is summoned to a name, and soon
A roomful of people becomes dense and contoured
And words come out of the wall
To batter the rhythm of generation following on generation.

And I see once more how everything
Must be up to me: here a calamity to be smoothed away
Like ringlets, there the luck of uncoding
This singular cipher of primary
And secondary colors, and the animals
With us in the ark, happy to be there as it settles
Into an always more violent sea.

  - in Ashbery's A Wave: Poems

Ashbery, Proust and Time
John Deming

(....)

Much of Proust’s prose, much like certain passages in Ashbery’s poetry and creative prose, involves extended sentences that arrive flush with the passing of time; they do their best to hold off the “certitude” or “stopping point” of a period, or the stopping point of a fixed, certain idea. Time is positioned as a human being’s most fundamental problem, and accomplishing whatever work time permits one to accomplish – accounting for time as it passes, and learning from it – seems the appropriate response. This says something about the volume of work that both have produced. Time is the space a person occupies; passed time is “beneath” a person, according to Proust, leaving one standing on higher and higher stilts until they either collapse for good, or extend to a new, unrecognizable set of circumstances. Ashbery notes in “Convex” that days grow “concentrically” around a life, a more useful representation of time than the traditional “linear” timeline. Time is not backwards to forwards; it is a plane, and to feel it passing is to feel warps in the curve of spacetime.

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Handbook of the trees of the northern states and Canada east of the Rocky mountains.
Romeyn Beck Hough
1907

Internet Archive Book Images' Photostream

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Kafka’s literary metamorphoses
Carolin Duttlinger

(....)

In Kafka Translated, Michelle Woods traces the history of Kafka in translation through four examples: the Czech journalist Milena Jesenská, Kafka’s very first translator (and his lover); Willa Muir, whose reputation was largely overshadowed by her husband; and the contemporary translators Mark Harman and Michael Hofmann. Unlike the Muirs, who produced a smooth and “readable” Kafka intended to appeal to a wide readership, recent translators have taken a deliberately “foreignising” approach by sticking closely to the originals. Harman and Hofmann do not try to correct apparent stylistic weaknesses, such as Kafka’s repetitive vocabulary or his over-long sentences and paragraphs – what Harman, paraphrasing Samuel Beckett, calls the “steamroller-like quality” of Kafka’s prose.



September 01, 2014

Readers under the Lamp
1913
Willi Baumeister
d. August 31, 1955

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after revolution: a review of antoine volodine’s writers
Diana George

“I hate reading ‘difficult authors.’” In this interview filmed in 2011, French writer Antoine Volodine looks pained when asked why he dislikes hearing his books called “difficult.” He counters that his books are only difficult to summarize, not to read. It’s true: the ramifying narrative strands of Volodine’s novels fascinate, but they are almost impossible to describe. Like the fictitious novels penned by one of his writer-characters in the newly translated Writers (Dalkey, 2014; Éditions du Seuil, 2010), Volodine’s books consist of “dark scenes, oscillation between political and mystical spheres, biting humor, nested story lines, tangled interior worlds, portrayal of the drift towards madness or death.” And Volodine’s books present a further difficulty for summary: they belong to a fictional-yet-real literary movement named (by Volodine) “post-exoticism.”

In a “post-exotic” novel, the plot usually begins long after the defeat of an unnarrated “world revolution”; the characters are often revengers or revolutionaries, now imprisoned, or mad, or dead; and the narrative voice shifts among narrators and “surnarrators,” in books-within-books ascribed to various heteronyms—these last are fictional post-exotic writers who sometimes also publish books in our world. (Volodine’s heteronyms with autonomous literary careers include Manuela Draeger and Lutz Bassmann.) Their battle lost, these fictional post-exotics have not conceded defeat or renounced their beliefs; instead, they’ve taken up writing—but post-exotic writing is a lowly, risible act, often consisting merely of tapping on pipes in prison cells, or murmuring or sighing or coughing out words that come to nothing in the end.

Given this complexity, Volodine’s books may sound difficult, to a degree that belies the rapt experience of reading them. And in Writers, the writer-characters struggle with a Beckettian difficulty: how to come to the end of writing. However, even as they try to reach silence, the writers in Writers go on writing—in gripping, poetic, hallucinatory images—after the end of revolution, after defeat or betrayal.
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Unspectacular Landscapes

Claudia Terstappen

via

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Three poems
Dariusz Sośnicki
Translated by Tadeusz Pióro
Leaves

Shake themselves off trees so violently
that drifts rise along curbs
in alleys and under building walls.
Trams plod through strewn streets
lose sight of their tracks and you see them
later roaming the greens
snouts down by the cold earth. The sky
looks at itself in a shop window and everything
is written in a thin, lined notebook. My
well is full of twigs and dust, the tap chokes
on an ice-cube: who sent

these tight clothes to get me?
Poems from Altered State - The New Polish Poetry

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An Alchemical Journal (2)
Robert Kelly
presented by Pierre Joris

(....)

Only now is it clear that I was walking on that hillside. Midway up the woods there is a fence, & by it a black wet tree. We stopped & planted seeds there, in the middle of the air. There was such silence in the woods, in the wood, & that’s what I’m trying to get away from now. No need for all that silence, no need for all this secrecy, as far as I can see. And there are houses where women sleep. Were we sad because we were silent, & silent because all the secrets had told themselves into the listening rain? Anybody seeing me would have known what was on my mind.

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Words without Borders September 2014: Writing Exile


The Poet Cannot Stand Aside: Arabic Literature and Exile
M. Lynx Qualey

(....)

Migration, banishment, and estrangement have long been themes of Arabic letters. The trope of collective exile, or collective loss of a homeland, has been a separate but overlapping part of the shared imaginative landscape. It took on new force after the 1492 fall of Grenada, after which waves of Jews, Muslims, and others were forced to flee what had been a powerful, diverse caliphate, populated by some of Arabic literature’s most important writers.

These two overlapping threads—personal and collective exile—have been leitmotifs throughout the last several hundred years of Arabic literature. But in the last century, they have moved from the periphery to the center of literary discussion.

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Harbor
1909
Georges Braque
d. August 31, 1963

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Democracy and the Spectacle
On Rousseau's homeopathic strategy
Chiara Bottici

In this talk, delivered as 2013 Cassirer Lecture of the University of Gothenburg, I argue that this striking remark must be understood within the more general framework of a critique of the spectacular nature of modern society. If the spectacle is not simply an occasional form of entertainment, but a social relationship that pervades modern society as a whole, how can we escape from it? Rousseau's homeopathic strategy, according to which we should fight an evil through small doses of that very same evil, offers a solution that is crucial for grasping the scope of Rousseau's critique of the spectacle as well as for rethinking the possibility of democracy.


August 29, 2014

Michael Sowa

via Biblioklept

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An Alchemical Journal
Robert Kelly
presented by Pierre Joris

(....)

Silence as instruction. Two kinds of Silence. Negative: silence as abstention from utterance [how to teach poetry]. Positive: silence as a shape to ram down their throats. In their ears. Bodies. Eyes. Shaped silence, against time.

*

Harpocrates is the Aion too. Silence of Hokhma. Silence of Binah. Michael Angelo’s grieving women. Tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, my initiation into the sphere of Binah, into the urgency of poetry. Trey of Spades. Pique-Dame. Prick this woman. Grief. Something held to the lips. Aion. Eis aiona. No time. (....)

It’s on a hillside, & so much has been in or on or under hillsides. I mean on hillsides but the others came, in, under. I think of the raths & hills my Irishes knew, backparts of my blood, fair dark-haired red-haired men like me who spoke no language I could understand & were my fathers. What if a man desires the acquaintance of his remotest great-grandmother, and she a mere girl, in the matins of the world, walking on the dewed grass of Ireland. What does it mean if a man wants to go into that time before him (though our language says two different things with that word before: “Before Abraham was, I am” but “Before my eyes”), what does it mean if a man wants to step lightly across the Galway field, earliest morning, up to where the mother of his blood walks just as lightly, & to slip his arm around her slim waist, but with his wrist so flexed that the tips of his long fingers brush, press, & half-support the fullness of her right breast, soft loose in her dress?

*

Whoever that man was I would in that fashion have slightly been, whoever he was he knew the hillsides, had maybe walked inside them beyond the tradition of easy enchantments, had maybe seen those cities, worships, inconceivable entertainments, above all had maybe felt the speed of Faery. And if I say all that’s in the hill is hill-stuff, molecules & subtle motions, I have denied nothing.

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De Arte Natandi
(The Art of Swimming)
Everard Digby
published in 1587

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Journal of Urban Cultural Studies
Volume 1, Number 1, 1

Félix Guattari and urban cultural studies
Stephen Luis Vilaseca

Félix Guattari’s work in ‘Drawing, Cities, Nomads’ and ‘Space and Corporeity’, two articles published in 1992, and his final three books, Cartographies schizo- analytiques/Schizoanalytic Cartographies), Les Trois écologies/The Three Ecologies and Chaosmose/Chaosmosis, not only theorize the relationship between subjectivity and the city, but also accompany the theory with a transdisciplinary call to remodel urban life. Guattari argues that the type of subjectivity we produce is linked to the type of cities we create, and vice versa. The world of predatory capitalism of the late 1980s and early 1990s in which Guattari wrote the books and articles reviewed here forced architects, urban planners, urban cultural studies theorists and activists to make important ethical and political choices. We are confronted with those same difficult decisions today. Will we continue to allow our subjectivity and our cities to be invaded by capitalism? Do we want our unconscious and our urban spaces to remain enslaved by money? If not, is there an alternative? Is there a will to change? How do we change? The purpose of this review article is to revisit Guattari’s analysis of subjectivity and explore its theoreti- cal and practical relevance for urban studies in both the social sciences and humanities disciplines.
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Michael Sowa

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"Beautiful, stupid, dangerous, life-saving, corrupting, and perhaps all there is."
Joe Wenderoth interview
by Paola Capó-García
(....)

That line in Celan's poem, “Speak, you too,” where he basically says: speak … but keep Yes and No unsplit. Celan, unlike someone like Stevens, is not inclined to give advice about how to write poetry, but here is an exception. The artifice, Celan understands, is beautiful, stupid, dangerous, life-saving, corrupting, and perhaps all there is. I am speaking of the artifice of the poem, as that is the artifice he is speaking of. The artifice of society—its organization of bodies and their sustaining customs—is another matter altogether. The artifice of society—I think of Berryman's Henry in “Dream Song #7”: “For the rats / have moved in, mostly, and this is for real.” And of course one thinks of Marx—the means of production have become so massive, a Frankenstein etcetera. Bottom line is that the situation—in terms of the oncoming nightmare/toxic dump/simulation-trap has made the artifice of poetry obsolete, obscene, obtuse. Nevertheless it goes on, of course, and this fact is at the foundation of my own contempt for a great deal of the contemporary poetry I come across. I agree again with Celan when he suggests that the only poetry that can be taken seriously now is necessarily gray, uncertain (groping, i.e. human presence). I think Celan thought of his poetry as moments in which he was able to get free of artfulness, or art. Similar to Whitman here—proposing poetry as an act of life rather than an act of art. I would like to agree, but I suppose the poems I've been writing bear witness to a life sometimes unable to get free of art.

And perhaps simply: the older you get, the more artificial it all seems.

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Michael Sowa

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Wittgenstein’s forgotten lesson
Ray Monk

Ludwig Wittgenstein is regarded by many, including myself, as the greatest philosopher of this century. His two great works, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) and Philosophical Investigations (published posthumously in 1953) have done much to shape subsequent developments in philosophy, especially in the analytic tradition. His charismatic personality has fascinated artists, playwrights, poets, novelists, musicians and even movie-makers, so that his fame has spread far beyond the confines of academic life.

And yet in a sense Wittgenstein’s thought has made very little impression on the intellectual life of this century. As he himself realised, his style of thinking is at odds with the style that dominates our present era. His work is opposed, as he once put it, to “the spirit which informs the vast stream of European and American civilisation in which all of us stand.” Nearly 50 years after his death, we can see, more clearly than ever, that the feeling that he was swimming against the tide was justified. If we wanted a label to describe this tide, we might call it “scientism,” the view that every intelligible question has either a scientific solution or no solution at all. It is against this view that Wittgenstein set his face.