April 24, 2014
And then doves and the thrush and the late
“An event must in some way end before its narration can begin.”
afternoon of the swallows under the bridge
and the fathoms of sleep and then the hollows
of dialogue aspiring to contain the rich facts
of what didn’t happen when it seemed to have,
and then a disquisition on the luster of windows
in the morning when a psalm is read
before lightning strikes the spire of a tall church
in the city of your birth, and then centuries
of robes of saffron or black and vespers or prayer
on cold granite or at a wall where guards
stand with AK-47s, and ghosts witness their attempts
with sorrow, unlike human sorrow, which is a stream
that evaporates when language interrupts its flow.
b. April 24, 1889
from A Time For Everything
Karl Ove Knausgaard
translated by James Anderson
Antinous had been born in 1551 at ardo, a small mountain town in the far north of Italy, where in all likelihood he remained until he began to study in 1565. Apart from one particular event, to which he was to return time after time for the rest of his life, little is known about his early years. The names of his parents and native town do not figure anywhere in Antinous’s writings, and, as they are otherwise characterized by a large amount of biographical detail, this early obscurity has aroused the curiosity of many readers. But if one is to attempt to understand Antinous, it isn’t to the inner man one must turn. For even if one succeeded in charting his inner landscape as it actually was, right down to the smallest fissure and groove in the massif of his character, imperceptibly shaped by the slow erosion of events, and traced the course of the flood of feelings back to their source, one would end up no wiser and the meaning of what was being charted would remain obscure. Even if the events and relationships of his life were to correspond exactly with a life in our own time, one that we could understand and recognize, we would still come no closer to him. Antinous was, first and foremost, of his time, and to understand who he was, that is what must be mapped. The minimal emphasis we place on this difference is due perhaps in particular to the lasting influence of Freud, that speculative genius of the twentieth century, whose fatal confusing of culture with nature, combined with his equally fatal insistence on the external event’s inner consequences, has influenced our self-understanding more than anything else, and lured us so far away from our ancestors that we believe they were like us. But our world is only one of many possible worlds, something of which the writings of Antinous and his contemporaries serve to remind us in no small measure.The Winter Anthology
A collection of contemporary literature informed by history and older art, 21st century science and philosophy, and the ending of print culture._______________________
An elegiac perspective.
An argument that the finest works of contemporary art are systems balanced at the edge of chaos, at the highest points of equilibrium between complexity and clarity.
An electronic collection until sufficient material for a print version accumulates.
Willem de Kooning
b. April 24, 1904
Framing Disability, Developing Race: Photography as Eugenic Technology
enculturation17: Open Issue
In this essay, I look back at photographs taken at Ellis Island in the very early part of the 20th century, an era, described by Barthes, as an age of explosions--explosions not only of population and immigration but also of the personal into the public and of technophilia, best metaphorized by the explosion of a camera’s flash bulb illuminating a new world. I am specifically interested in the ways that photography became a rhetorical tool of eugenicists and immigration restrictionists, and the ways that ideas about bodily fitness and defect drove the development of the technology.
In Cara Finnegan’s terms, I develop a “rhetorical history of the visual,” in that my project “relies upon critiques of vision and visuality to illuminate the complex dynamics of power and knowledge at play in and around images” (198). In terms of method, I take up Walter Benjamin’s call for studying photographs—in the age of mechanical reproduction—in terms of their production, reproduction, and circulation. Yet, I also attend to what David Bate calls the “surfaces of emergence” in that I focus on not just a group of photos, but also the connected practices, institutions, and relationships that must be considered when undertaking an archaeology of photography .
The photographs under study, I suggest, are emblematic of an important rhetorical moment—the emergence of the American eugenics movement. They are also charts of an important rhetorical space—Ellis Island. In crafting this “rhetorical history of the visual,” I thus specifically link these images to the rhetoric of eugenics and to the social and cultural construction of categories of race and disability in this era—categories that still adhere today. I specifically argue that these photographs ought be understood as products of a technology—photography—that created a new archive and index for sorting and classifying human bodies in this era. Indeed, Ellis Island, and the photographs taken there, actually helped frame and develop both race and disability, contingently.
a refereed journal devoted to contemporary theories of rhetoric, writing, and culture.
the jug on the table
A Specter Is Haunting Precarity
Due to its lack of focus on the structural conditions of late capitalism—conditions that surely demand a more capacious understanding of the plight and figure of the precariat—precarity fails to consider the system in its totality. Because of these limitations, precarity as inscribed in the popular and academic press has become a way to maintain the status quo by creating a designation that largely includes only displaced professionals. These lapses make it difficult to organize around the conclusions the term draws because, as little more than a descriptor of the status quo, precarity can only compulsively reiterate these conclusions. And so, as Lenin so aptly put it over a century ago, what is to be done?
It is high time for displaced professionals to organize alongside of, strike with, and support fast food and other low-wage workers. Many intellectuals and others, for good reason, hesitate to get involved in these kinds of cross-racial and cross-class struggles: is this a kind of noblesse oblige, cultural imperialism, or racism under a different name, they ask. These are good questions and ones that must be asked relentlessly. But they should be asked, in my opinion, from within, rather than outside of these movements.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
b. late April - early May 1775;
Waves lack surface when you are weak, nothing risen quickly enough to keep you up. Keep pulling toward midpoint between both islands where you could be lost but must keep going like a brute force of nature despite the dwindled sap in your arms. If you never had faith you find enough to say if this is what you have in store for me, either kill me this next moment or I will be your humble servant for the rest of my life. Strike me down now and let us not wait for jellyfish or sharks or else please stick by me and let me get there.
April 22, 2014
The Complexities Of A Moment Felt: The Lance Olsen Interview
Dreamlives of Debris
I have my doll and the screamings behind my eyelids. The screamings look like fluttery lights. The fluttery lights believe they live inside me, but I live inside them too.
My doll’s name is Catastrophe.
I say once, I say now, I say hours, days, weeks, but I do not understand myself: Down here time is a storm-swarmed ship always breaking up.
Search as I might over the years, if one may call them that, and not something else—miscalculations, for instance—I have never ferreted out the guarded portal. Surely it exists in the same way, say, future dictionaries exist.
Interview by Scott Esposito
1924 - 2014
with endless swims,
with algae around my waist
and convex tears on my cheeks.
Far away on the shore:
dogs with golden rings
circling their muzzles,
and rumors of abandoned memories.
I know what's awaiting me—
the winter of my discontent.
I have a reservation
outside on a hard bench
holding a bag of frostbitten potatoes.
That's why I swim so far out,
inside the sea's immense green magnifying glass.
Where next for media theory?
Where next for media theory? I’m thankful to Geert Lovink for his recent provocation on this question. Lovink thinks we have entered a post-Snowden era of media. So called ‘new’ media is dead, just as God is dead. Or, to vary the frame of reference, the ebullient schizo era of anything could happen gave way to the paranoid reaction.Hermes on the Hudson: Notes on Media Theory after Snowden
... unlike Lovink I can’t see the Snowden moment as all that decisive, but it is the case that the future once dreamt for ‘new media’ has been foreclosed. It is a victim of its success. Actually existing new media, like actually existing communism, falls short of the utopian projection. Its time to propose quite other futures, to locate other zones of virtuality from which other futures might seed.
In short: the point of media theory is – as Lovink suggests – a speculative one. But its task is not so much to fabulate futures as to describe in concepts what practices of relation, of pasts into presents and toward futures, could be.
Looking at the excessive arc of ‘new’ media since the nineties, I think we won the battle and lost the war. Social movements around free information and new community broke through the carapace of old media. We won! And then a new ruling class of figured out how to commodify our emergent gift economies at a higher level of abstraction. We lost! Well, too bad. Time to regroup and try something else.
This moment of defeat includes an inevitable return to the fantasy of a romance with the outside. Let’s leave social media behind! Let’s take no more selfies! Let’s only commune face-to-face while we sup on artisanal kale chips by the fire in our lumberjack shirts, brushing the crumbs from our flowing beards!
This is the problem with a lot of what I can only call late critique of media. It hasn’t learned a whole lot from media theory. It rests on the old saw of some organic, whole, romantic other that has been lost and can be restored. But as we have known since Donna Haraway at the latest: there’s no going back. We are made of media. We are made of technology.
On the Horizon, the Angel of Certitude,
and in the Dark Sky, A Questioning Glance
It Is Time for the Violence and Gender Journal
Mary Ellen O'Toole
(....)Violence and Gender 1:1
The mission of Violence and Gender is to identify and critically analyze biological, cultural, psychological, social, spiritual, anthropological, and environmental factors that influence males and even females to act violently. Are males, in fact, more violent than females? Do both sexes act out violently but in different ways? Are there different influencing factors that impact violent behavior for each sex? Violence and Gender will explore these questions and more by confronting controversial, even unsettling issues to determine the complex relationship between gender and violence.
Violence is complicated and too often misunderstood, myth-based, and stereotyped. We are shocked when we see the “nice guy” next door arrested for serial murder, or when the quiet loner goes on a shooting rampage. Many of us even default to using terms like “monster” and “evil” to explain such behavior and the people responsible. These archaic terms don't educate us or explain the violence but rather catapult us back into the 14th century when werewolves and vampires were blamed for acts of violence.
In the wake of September 11, and the event in Norway when Anders Breivik shot and killed 77 people, and more recently at the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, as well as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the bombings at the Boston Marathon, there has been an outcry for explanations as to why young males act so violently.
In light of these events and the resulting controversies, Mary Ann Liebert, president and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, decided it is time to take on these critical questions about gender and violence. As a result of Mary Ann's insight and vision, Violence and Gender was created. Her goal of a journal that will be provocative, educational, and extremely insightful will be realized through her diverse staff of assistants, editors, experts, contributors, and readers.
The Rhetoric of Violence
b. April 20, 1840
Birth of Thanaticism
We no longer have public intellectuals; we have public idiots. Anybody with a story or a ‘game-changing’ idea can have some screen time, so long as it either deflects attention from thanaticism, or better – justifies it. Even the best of this era’s public idiots come off like used car salesmen. It is not a great age for the rhetorical arts.
I don't know why we still call it capitalism. It seems to be some sort of failure or blockage of the poetic function of critical thought.
Even its adherents have no problem calling it capitalism any more. Its critics seem to be reduced to adding modifiers to it: postfordist, neoliberal, or the rather charmingly optimistic ‘late’ capitalism. A bittersweet term, that one, as capitalism seems destined to outlive us all.
I awoke from a dream with the notion that it might make more sense to call it thanatism, after Thanatos, son of Nyx (night) and Erebos(darkness), twin of Hypnos (sleep), as Homer and Hesiod seem more or less to agree.
Perhaps its no accident that the privatization of space appears on the horizon as an investment opportunity at just this moment when earth is going to the dogs. The ruling class must know it is presiding over the depletion of the earth. So they are dreaming of space-hotels. They want to not be touched by this, but to still have excellent views.
It makes perfect sense that in these times agencies like the NSA are basically spying on everybody. The ruling class must know that they are the enemies now of our entire species. They are traitors to our species being. So not surprisingly they are panicky and paranoid. They imagine we’re all out to get them.
And so the state becomes an agent of generalized surveillance and armed force for the defense of property. The role of the state is no longer managing biopower. It cares less and less about the wellbeing of populations. Life is a threat to capital and has to be treated as such.
The role of the state is not to manage biopower but to manage thanopower. From whom is the maintenance of life to be withdrawn first? Which populations should fester and die off? First, those of no use as labor or consumers, and who have ceased already to be physically and mentally fit for the armed forces.
The Daily Growler Is 8 Years Old
So we sing "Happy Birthday" to ourselves as we poke our ways into the coming shenanigans by our idiot and totally corrupt leaders like Paul "the Pious Catholic" Ryan; Mitch "Old South Numbskull" O'Connell; Ted "Superstupid" Cruz; the twelve dumbasses on our Supreme(ly Dumb) Court (of jesters); Hillary "Presidential Wife Turned Inept Politician" Clinton; the corrupt Bushes; John "Bonehead" Boehner; our current President; and, if We the Stupidest People on Earth elect Hillary "Hillbilly" Clinton or (God help us) Jeb "the Reb" Bush, then we'll have four more years of poking our fat cats in their bulging bellies as they go about legislating totally anti-human, inane, polluting, rewards and more tax loopholes for the rich and famous and more deregulating what little regulations are left on our criminal corporations as they close down more American factories and send them over to Red China, or Communist Vietnam, or Taiwan, or India, or Brazil or they foreclose on more of our homes in order to return them to the communities as high-end rental units...we mean, to put it precisely, more of the same old bullshit.
April 21, 2014
Still Life with Coffee Mill
b. April 20, 1893
Leftism and the Banausic Thinker: From Plato to Verso
This is an essay about defining one’s self as better than the world, as purer than the world. The urge to take your marbles and go home is a very old one, yet its role in art and politics is paradoxical, since taking your marbles and going home would seem to suggest that you will be ineffectual and unremembered. In fact, I think that is what happens most of the time. But the purist’s ability to survive latently in society owes to a peculiar form of elitism. Sometimes the elitism is obvious; other times it hides under a mask of ideology.
Poems on Surveillance
Andante and Filibuster
Remember last month, when he was saying
doomed lovers’ syndrome uproots us all?
They all wanna hear that,
and hanging them out to dry slumpingly caresses
the center for new needs, and we’ll stiffen some near
the walled city and find 100 per cent electricity of the vote.
(Not sure about that.) Funny you should ask.
We got a small grant to have the house inspected and
as a result of that discovered a small crack
leading from the front door to the basement.
Much thinner air here, although the nation’s salt and pepper
sprinkle the neighborhood. Hose her down. Keep trying
to creep out, test ingot possibilities.
Maureen N. McLane
Cathy Park Hong
from The Iceland
Hiroaki Sato on Hagiwara Sakutaro
Translated from the Japanese by Hiraoki Sato
A Crow of Nihility
translated from the Japanese by Hiraoki Sato
I was originally a crow of nihility
on that high roof of winter solstice I'll open my mouth
and roar like a weathervane.
Whether the season has epistemology or not
what I do not have is everything.
The Birth of the World
The Sponge of Sleep
The woods are sorry for them.
Small rain will land somewhere.
April 18, 2014
Gabriel García Márquez
March 6, 1927 - April 17, 2014
Read 10 Short Stories by Gabriel García Márquez Free Online
(Plus More Essays & Interviews)
The April issue of Asymptote
The Space between Languages
translated from the German by Julia Sherwood
Radka Denemarková on translating Herta Müller
There is not a single Romanian sentence in any of my books. But Romanian is always with me when I write because it has grown into my way of seeing the world.
It is from the space between languages that images emerge. Each sentence is a way of looking at things, crafted by its speakers in a very particular way. Each language sees the world differently, inventing its entire vocabulary from its own perspective and weaving it into the web of its grammar in its own way. Each language has different eyes sitting inside its words.
translated from the Czech by Julia Sherwood
Her sentences are like the incisions of a scalpel. She keeps writing one book that runs like endlessly long hair; it sticks in the reader's gullet and can't be vomited up. The father she can no longer seek out, the mother she no longer wants. You can swallow a mulberry or a plum.
I did swallow it. I translated The Passport and The Hunger Angel after finishing my own novel, Kobold. For over two years, while I worked on my book, the difficult themes kept swelling up, infiltrating the language, cementing the banks of the story. When the time of intense brooding was over I was happy to shed the text, like skin. The exhausted writer in me was in dire need of a rest. I had never dreamt of translating. But the translator in me hastened to my rescue, deflecting my thoughts.
"My Head is a Garden"
Space Teriyaki 7
Visions of space and the future
in Japan in the 70s and 80s
Samuel R. Delany on Close Listening
Samual R. Delany talks with Charles Bernstein about genres, sex, and dyslexia in this wide-ranging conversation with the polymathic author. Delany addresses the role of fantasy and the bounds of imagination in his works and rebuts assumptions about the nature of genre writing.
The Un-X-able Y-ness of Z-ing (Q): A List with Notes
Milan Kundera opposed using "the unbearable lightness of being" to title the English translation of his Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí, even though it is relatively close to the Czech original. “I realize that for you Americans the title will be a bit hard-going," Kundera states in Michael Heim's account,
“so we can try something else,” and he suggested one of the chapter titles: “Karenin’s Smile.” I protested. “We’re not children,” I told the editor. “If The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the title, so be it.” And so it stayed. [Adriana Babeti, "A Happy Babel," Iowa Review]
Heim's translation, like a spot of dye, dropped into the flow of culture and altered the hue of English as it diffused downstream. A meme before memes, the breadth of this title's reach lets us see something we know is true but can rarely prove: translation choices transform our language and our experience of the world. The list in this essay is drawn from internet and library catalog searches of article, chapter, blog, and book titles for variations on the translation.
the unbearable lightness of meaning
the unbearable lightness of acting
the unbearable lightness of community
the unbearable lightness of exodus
the unbearable lightness of sight
the unbearable lightness of games
the unbearable lightness of the climate change industrial complex
the unbearable lightness of anthropology
Heim's gallant defense of American intellectual pride has been seconded, and thirded, and thousandthed, by writers who fit their own titles into the algebra of these abstract words. It has become an English given, a linguistic formula like Raymond Carver's "what we talk about when we talk about [x]" or R. F. C. Hull's "zen and the art of [x]." The English words that Heim poured into the Czech original have become the form where other authors cast their words.
the unbearable wine-ness of being a light
the unbearable busy-ness of being
the unbearable rambo-ness of being
the unbearable sade-ness of being
the unbearable panda-ness of being
the unbearable stuff-ness of being
the unbearable khaki-ness of being
the unbearable bro-ness of being
the unbearable wasp-ness of being
the unbearable clown-ness of being
the unbearable madness of being
Falling somewhere between pun and prayer, each repetition explores a possible application of the translated title to a new topic. En masse, they offer a visual, graphic testament to Heim's intuition of American culture and literary value.
b. April 18, 1884
Matthew Zapruder: Two Poems_______________________
What Can Poetry Do
In Africa people are angry.
They are climbing embassy walls
and burning whatever is there.
Each time I click on some words
and read what we call news
although it is always too old
I feel certain some people
while I was reading have died.
I know I am here merely reading.
I just sit in my room and worry.
As always I can do nothing
So I close all the portals and go
deep in my mind to discover
something about Tunisia.
Civil disobedience for an age of total surveillance
The case of Edward Snowden
William E. Scheuerman
... Sadly, one of our most eloquent critics of state surveillance now finds himself, partly because of the Obama's administration's draconian response, at the whim of a former KGB spymaster. Recently, in Brazil, Germany and elsewhere, a lively debate has erupted about the possibility that Snowden – who only gained temporary asylum from the Russians – might now be granted asylum there.
Even though media sources have reported extensively both on his quest for asylum and his travails in Putin's Russia, they have failed to impart a satisfactory sense of the weighty moral and political reflections which apparently induced the then 29-year Snowden to give up his six-figure salary and comfortable life in Hawaii. As I hope to show, Snowden's public declarations – and especially an illuminating yet neglected statement he made at the Moscow Airport on 12 July 2013 when reluctantly accepting Russia's offer of asylum – show that Snowden has thought long and hard about the fundamental question of when and how citizens of a liberal democratic state are morally and politically obliged to violate the law.