Flower Sacrifice

My favourite passage in The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo is an anecdote about the appreciation of flowers.

Flower stories are endless. We shall recount but one more. In the sixteenth-century the morning-glory was as yet a rare plant with us. Rikiu had an entire garden planted with it, which he cultivated with assiduous care. The fame of his convolvuli reached the ear of the Taiko,and he expressed a desire to see them, in consequence of which Rikiu invited him to a morning tea at his house. On the appointed day the Taiko walked through the garden, but nowhere could he see any vestige of the convulvus. The ground had been leveled and strewn with fine pebbles and sand. With sullen anger the despot entered the tea-room, but a sight waited him there which completely restored his humour. On the tokonoma, in a rare bronze of Sung workmanship, lay a single morning-glory — the queen of the whole garden!
I have fondly traded in paraphrases of this excellent story. However, it is only upon copying it out here that I realized that the generic "flower" of my tellings is actually species-specific. It adds a note of poignancy to realize that the morning-glory does not flourish as a cut flower. As Okakura continues: "In such instances we see the full significance of the Flower Sacrifice."

And so for day 1886
11.02.2012

Luck-trampled Clover

She's a difficult poet. Not because she is inaccessible. But because of the delight we take in examining the stitching dangerously makes us miss the hang of the garment. But not quite, we can and are expected to reread — the lyric or sequence is short enough to accommodate attention to both the fine detail and the overarching construction.

Who is she? What drives her art? Let's listen in to Phoebe Wang in an interview published in the Brockton Writers Series blog.

Essentially I’m a lyric landscape poet, if I really wanted to put labels on myself. I like to write about things as a distance, and I tend to have an abstract, impersonal view of the world. But I think the most thrilling poems come out when I feel like I’m being backed into a corner. When I finished this series, this experiment, I did see that the “ekphrastic” label didn’t really fit. I had been writing in a very personal way all along, but suffered from a kind of myopia. So now when I’m writing a poem about fog or about a long walk in the neighborhood, I’m conscious of it being a very internal, private poem and not something separate from my psyche. Conversely, the harder I tried to represent my family as who they really are, they more archetypal they became.

BWS 14.09.16: Phoebe Wang
https://brocktonwritersseries.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/bws-14-09-16-phoebe-wang/
And let us juxtapose that with a blurb by David O'Meara to Phoebe Wang's chapbook Occasional Emergencies
Phoebe Wang's ekphrastic poems remind me that art is not just an object to be viewed passively but is an interaction, worth climbing inside and inhabiting.
Here, dwell upon these for a while.
We build so one of us
     might levitate

"The Tower" after Louis Gréaud [I], Centre Pompidou
Occasional Emergencies
The parliament of voices no longer sovereign
rehearses its next course of action

builds consensus by semitones and minor intervals.

"Feedback Loop" after Janet Cardiff, The Forty-Part Motet Occasional Emergencies
This haiku-like kenning has been purloined as our title:
luck-trampled clover

from "Manhunt" after Charlotte Posenenske, Prototype for a Revolving Vane
Occasional Emergencies
The poem in part about school children's games becomes by its end a meditation on chance and the aleatory.
The bell collected us like a deck of cards
     face-up on the yard's blank baize.
See what I mean by difficult? Doesn't let you, dear reader, off the hook for your "connivence" as the French would say or simply complicity as the English might.

Take two lines (from "Guiding Lights" in Admission Requirements), precious in themselves by their working over a repetition to induce wave-action:
and waves worked toward the tideline
and the tideline aspired to its high water mark.
Which remembered stretch us into the mode of striving. Which reread in their context become so much more
as missed opportunities. My path swerves
around keeled dinghies, stroller tires, debris
of a bounteous season, when we made waves
and waves worked toward the tideline
and the tideline aspired to its high water mark.
Over the peaks and valleys — see it?
Someone's left the stovelight on.
Dear Poet, thank you for leaving lights on and guiding us.

And so for day 1885
10.02.2012

Fromage: Tasting Notes

Nancy's Cheese distributes little blurbs on small slips with the cheese you purchase. It's a way of educating our palate and making us more articulate in expressing our tastes.

This one for LE MAMIROLLE (Fromagerie Eco Délices, Plessisville, QC) caught my attention as one of the best in the fine art of combining description and direction with tantalizing suggestion.

If you are looking for a "stinky" cheese, Le Mamirolle is for you. This semi-firm washed rind is made from cow milk. Like most washed rind cheeses the aroma is quite pronounced but the actual flavour is more subdued. Le Mamirolle has a wonderful balance of fruity and meaty flavours. The rind is edible. The supple texture also makes it a great choice for grilled cheese sandwiches. Storage: parchment paper then plastic wrap.

www.nancyscheese.com
Oh, by the way, it is superb with pears.

And so for day 1884
09.02.2012

Mutabilities

Different lighting. Different forms of evanescence.

from "Moonlight"

Thus are moths
the cloth of dreams
from "Another Dawn"
Falling maple keys
so many doors to the windy mansion
and no one home
Roo Borson Cardinal in the Easter White Cedar

And so for day 1883
08.02.2012

Passing Show

Exhibit A
From Leslie Scalapino The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence

'Not perceiving impermanence' itself becomes an action, an intention.
Exhibit B
From "See also" listing from Wikipedia entry "mono no aware"
  • Lacrimae rerum
  • Memento mori
  • Mottainai
  • Nine Changes
  • Wabi-sabi
  • Ubi sunt
  • Weltschmerz
  • Sehnsucht
  • Saudade
Exhibit C
The conjunction of Exhibit A with Exhibit B.

And so for day 1882
07.02.2012

Rinse and Repeat

"Dear Living Person" John Russell in Blast Counterblast edited by Anthony Elms and Steve Reinke. (First appeared in Mute Feb 16, 2011)

It has a put down that functions by way of repetition.

In this context the curator is the key performer — as organiser, collector, cataloguer, archaeologist, manger and guardian. And for instance, Rancière is the philosopher par-excellence, as the philosopher of aesthetics-in-general and the generalised interdisciplinary. In a world where there are no categories, we are left to experiment with the senses. A meta-politics and framing of a common sensorium, rearticulating freedom and equality in relation to new relationships between thought and the sensory world, between bodies and the social distribution of bodies. Rancière is the writer of this position, an extra-institutional relational aesthetics. He's not very good, but then this is not a very good position. With the dissolution of genre he offers us a generalised reorganisation of senses in general in general in general in general.
In general, it works as polemic. Less so as persuasion.

And so for day 1881
06.02.2012

Delicate Tensility

Recalling the toughness of the body by invoking its frailties.

the incessant waves seize me, my hands
on my head in my hair, I don't forget how
fragile the brain is under the bone of the
cranium, how friable the bones beneath the
skin, tender the flesh, thin the nerves, the
veins.
Chantal Neveu A Spectacular Influence translated by Nathanaël.

I don't forget that every step is a falling.

And so for day 1880
05.02.2012

Appellation d'origine controlée

Waters Remembered begins with a catalogue of streams Taddle Creek, GarrisonCreek, Burke Brook, Castle Frank Brook, etc. All buried watercourses in Toronto.

It is not quite an epic catalogue. Their mention is a lyric impulse to anchor the poem in place.

This beginning tying name to place suffers a displacement when it comes to portraits. The subject is not named by a kind of divergent ekphrasis. "Royal Street Diamond" begins as a description of a bronze bull created by Joe Fafard and poised outside the Mira Godard Gallery in Yorkville and then the poem turns to the speaker's companion, a friend "who is losing memory and language". The poem is full of details and apt anecdote that allow me to identify its subject. And I ponder why his name isn't invoked.

He points to the anatomically correct
scrotum dangling between the bull's sturdy
back legs, giggles, waves his hands and says

needs something … at his neck … He reaches
for words and finds them: a sign … waiting
for the girls!
We laugh and walk on past

high-end clothing shops. His words flow now
remembering his cousin's dairy barn smelling
of straw and shit, its din of bawling calves.
He was a professor of English and an admirer of pretty boys from way back. The creator of Stonyground, a very special farm garden on the Bruce.

But I understand the poet's reticence. This is not a poem for. It is a poem about.

But naming is important for the the full presence of the genius of the place to carry on. Our friend's name is Douglas (never Doug) Chambers. He has since that walk with Maureen Scott Harris lost more of his memories and has less of his exquisite mastery of language to work with. He still giggles on occasion.

Maureen Scott Harris Waters Remembered

And so for day 1879
04.02.2012

Craft, Cookery and the Good

Simon Hopkinson. Introduction to Roast Chicken and Other Stories

Good cooking, in the final analysis, depends on two things: common sense and good taste. It is also something that you naturally have to want to do well in the first place, as with any craft. It is a craft, after all, like anything that is produced with the hands and senses to put together an attractive and complete picture. By "picture," I do not mean "picturesque": good food is to be eaten because it tastes good and smells enticing.
Look at how the adjective circulates in the paragraph — like a fine soupçon of garlic — echoing like a chiasmus: good taste tastes good.

And so for day 1878
03.02.2012

Nodes, Lists, Pants

Leslie Scalapino "Footnoting" in The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence in her own abstract way supplies me with an epigraph to my indulging in

To produce this impermanence by iterating dissimilarities until they become something else—is the opposite movement of (converse of) obsession or imitation.
serves nicely as an epigraph to this selection of quotations from the catalogue for works by Kai Chan Rainbow Lakes with essays by Stuart Reid and Robin Metcalfe

Robin Metcalfe "Synaesthesia" leads us on an etymological run
The word 'node' derives from an Indo-European root, gen-, which means 'to compress into a ball.' It gives us the words, 'knit,' 'connect' and 'nettle,' and once named several plants of closely related genera, such as the ever-useful hemp, that were anciently employed as sources of fibre. The same root provides sailors with the words 'net' and 'lanyard,' the name of that peculiarly nautical accessory, the knotted cord sailors wear around their necks.
Stuart Reid has constructed his essay around the theme of lists. Down the side of Metcalfe's and Reid's essays are a set of lists of which this is the first:
1. Synonyms for pants
Drawers
Underwear
Trousers
Dungarees
Pedal Pushers
Capri Pants
Bell Bottoms
Knickers
Cords
Bloomers
Pantaloons
Slacks
Flares
I first encountered his work at a 2011 show at the Textile Museum of Canada. I like that now I can think of "node" and "list" as elements of the work and know that what is at work here is neither obsession nor imitation.

And so for day 1877
02.02.2012