All Around Us

I cannot celebrate enough Jane Byers impeccable justesse in the endings to the poems in the Keen sequence in Acquired Community. Look at how poignant and yet defiant the ending of the last poem in the sequence, "Elegy", is

But I don't want to keen,
I want to live.
So did we.
If you want immortality, write a book.
Your book falls apart in my hands.
Read others, including elegies.
Damn the elegy.
It took decades for all of us to plainly say
I love you to someone who is alive.
Eventually you will love
more of the dead than the living.
Of course, those who recall Laurie Anderson's lyrics to Speak My Language ("Now that the living outnumber the dead") would have a different take on finitude and the love of the dead. And by the way Byers is spot on, Michael Lynch's book in its perfect binding falls apart in your hands. The glue dries and crumbles. There is no immortality through the book. There is also no guarantee that one will live to the point of loving more of the dead than the living. Destiny can claim the young before they age. There is some bad faith being peddled here. And if we back up to the strophes that link to this exchange we find a plurality of activities that are necessary to sustain community — and thus the poem itself betrays the privileged position of the wisdom of the ending. The end is not the end.
I love the gay community.
Our community.
What have you done to help our community?
We forged our own families of choice,
created bonds of affection not blood,
celebrated sex, helped each other die.
But I don't want to keen,
I want to live.
And so on until the end. I am not fine with that exclusionary "we" — it cannot be recuperated by a half-hearted intimation of mortality. Read others is the imperative embedded earlier. And so I will turn to Lorna Crozier The Garden Going on Without Us, "Even the Dead"
Even the dead reach for you
as you walk, so beautiful,
across the earth.

[...]

The bouquets in your room
are the hands of the dead,
transmuted. Roses.

[...]

Even the dead bless you.
Their blossoms glow
like muted lanterns

lighting your way
as you walk
green paths of sleep.
Quite a different sensibility than the Protestant-tinged guilt tripping of the ghost in Jane Byers (in an earlier poem in the sequence the ghost admits that "Religion gave me stories / and a place to put my rage"). But Crozier's transmuted dead are in keeping with that very same raging ghost's notions about transfiguration. Just needs a return to a more expansive notion of dancefloor. The end is not the end. On this I am quite keen. And a duet is not a dialogue.

And so for day 2289
20.03.2013

Dance Craze Blaze

Elsewhere I have examined the closing scene of Queer as Folk in terms of the ongoing dance of the community. Here I cite Michael Lynch from These Waves of Dying Friends, the fifth section of "Sand"

My friends who rarely boogie never know
the telling mark of the great DJs, the sense
of everlastingness, music with without end,
of seamless mixes and 8 a.m. conclusions that
don't conclude but do go round again
one more time. When I last left
I knew when I'd return I'd have the sense

of nothing ended, nothing altered, nothing new
in the only life I count as true: the dancefloor.
Jane Byers in Acquired Community has a whole section called "Keen" which is an intergenerational dialogue between a young gay man and the ghost of Michael Lynch. The poem "Transfiguration" in the Keen sequence touches upon dance. The ghost of Michael kicks off by asking: "Tell me, when you dance / do you rage against loss?" The answer is a predictable and puzzled "no" given the exchanges to this point: "Huh? No, we just dance / in the hopes of getting laid." There follows more in this vein as the poem runs through the nature of belief and why one might make a rapprochement between dancing and Christ's transfiguration. It leads to a priceless ending (the ghost of Lynch is on the right; on the left the guy not wanting to but talking to the dead guy)
I'm a ghost.
No pallid mourning.
Just furious rage on the dance floor
that electrifies our bodies with energy,
transfers power to the living—
that could only have been his legacy.
Whose?
Another dead friend.
A new Jesus
Careful, you'll go to your hell for that.
Wait, you are telling me to be reverent?
All your sex and fluid ethics,
your post-AIDS privilege.
Ah, your soapbox.
Stand down.
It's just dumb luck.
Do you think only Jesus shines with rays of light?
Do you think your energy comes from only you?
I thought ...
Not by yourself, you didn't
The whole poem deserves to be consulted to fully savour this sharp ending.

And so for day 2288
19.03.2013

The Almost Forgotten Fairy

Craig Claiborne in the revised edition of The New York Time Cook Book recounts the characters that characterize a fine dressing.

An old culinary chestnut states that if takes four persons to make a sauce for salads: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt and a madman to stir the ingredients.
And a fairy to sprinkle in herbs or some minced garlic or a dab of mustard.

And so for day 2287
18.03.2013

Speak of the Hand

A celebration of all good things that can be piled on toast or crostini is prefaced by praise for the hand.

I find something intrinsically "right" about eating food while holding it in my hands. It is as if this is how food was meant to be eaten all along, with knives, forks, and chopsticks being part of a parlor game that somehow got out of hand. I certainly enjoy the feel of the food in my fingers, and no doubt aspire to the primitiveness of it all.
"Out of hand" indeed.

Nigel Slater
"Bakery Goods and Drinks"
Real Fast Food
from the American edition as you can tell by the spelling.

And so for day 2286
17.03.2013

Invasion of the Peacemakers

"wants" is on its first appearance a verb, on its subsequent appearance a possible noun indicating a plurality of desires until enjambement forces it back to singular verb status — still an echo resides of wanting to end wants — a tendency to être comblé

anyone with
sense wants
madness to end wants
Canada to invade the
United States of
the Americas
bring us to our knees
dissolve our military
imprison our leaders
distribute our wealth
insist we live in peace
"The Nerve of Honey Must Prevail"
CAConrad
Ecodeviance: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness

Note the fictional state - the United States of the Americas - not to be confused with the United States of America. More play on singularity.

And so for day 2285
16.03.2013

Post Precariat

A World Without Work from The Atlantic

Derek Thompson draws on Benjamin Hunnicutt.

The post-work proponents acknowledge that, even in the best post-work scenarios, pride and jealousy will persevere, because reputation will always be scarce, even in an economy of abundance. But with the right government provisions, they believe, the end of wage labor will allow for a golden age of well-being. [Benjamin] Hunnicutt said he thinks colleges could reemerge as cultural centers rather than job-prep institutions. The word school, he pointed out, comes from skholē, the Greek word for “leisure.” “We used to teach people to be free,” he said. “Now we teach them to work.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/
Thompson goes on to note that unemployed people end up spending majority of time watching television. He makes no mention about any links between disposable income and leisure; instead he returns us to work as the source of meaning: "The unemployed theoretically have the most time to socialize, and yet studies have shown that they feel the most social isolation; it is surprisingly hard to replace the camaraderie of the water cooler." Nice sentiment but further along in the article, Thompson concedes "Less passive and more nourishing forms of mass leisure could develop. Arguably, they already are developing. The Internet, social media, and gaming offer entertainments that are as easy to slip into as is watching TV, but all are more purposeful and often less isolating. " But he raises an objection "[I]t’s hard to imagine that leisure could ever entirely fill the vacuum of accomplishment left by the demise of labor. Most people do need to achieve things through, yes, work to feel a lasting sense of purpose."

Of course, it is important to note that "wage labour" is not "work".

Intrinsically this is a problem of income insecurity or wealth inequality. Something to work on.

And so for day 2284
15.03.2013

undotting the i-candy

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
B. 1957, GUÁIMARO, CUBA; D. 1996, MIAMI

Gonzalez-Torres invited physical as well as intellectual engagement from viewers. His sculptures of wrapped candies spilled in corners or spread on floors like carpets, such as “Untitled” (Public Opinion) (1991), defy the convention of art’s otherworldly preciousness, as viewers are asked to touch and consume the work. Beginning in 1989, he fashioned sculptures of stacks of paper, often printed with photographs or texts, and encouraged viewers to take the sheets. The impermanence of these works, which slowly disappear over time unless they are replenished, symbolizes the fragility of life. While in appearance they sometimes echo the work of Donald Judd, these pieces also belie the Minimalist tenet of aesthetic autonomy: viewers complete the works by depleting them and directly engaging with their material. The artist always wanted the viewer to use the sheets from the stacks—as posters, drawing paper, or however they desired.

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/felix-gonzalez-torres
Gonzalez-Torres invited physical as well as intellectual engagement from viewers. His sculptures of wrapped candies spilled in corners or spread on floors like carpets, such as “Untitled” (Public Opinion) (1991), defy the convention of art’s otherworldly preciousness, as viewers are asked to touch and consume the work. Beginning in 1989, he fashioned sculptures of stacks of paper, often printed with photographs or texts, and encouraged viewers to take the sheets. The impermanence of these works, which slowly disappear over time unless they are replenished, symbolizes the fragility of life. While in appearance they sometimes echo the work of Donald Judd, these pieces also belie the Minimalist tenet of aesthetic autonomy: viewers complete the works by depleting them and directly engaging with their material. The artist always wanted the viewer to use the sheets from the stacks—as posters, drawing paper, or however they desired.

And so for day 2283
14.03.2013

Waves

These Waves

[T]he inner narrative of Phallos ends with Neoptolomus's rejection of the moral conflations of organized religion, and leaves Neoptolomus and his partner Nivek contemplating the Heraclitean flux of the universe, the certainty of loss, and the utter unknowability of the future — which is to say, the certainty of its novelty: the certainty of the arrival, even in the midst of loss, of new persons, new stories, new data.

Kenneth R. James "Discourse and Desire, Muddle and Need: Radical Reading In and Around Phallos essay in the enhanced and revised edition (2013) of Phallos by Samuel R. Delany.
These Waves of Dying Friends in conversation with Acquired Community. (Words from Michael Lynch as revisited in imagination through a persona created by Jane Byers)

And so for day 2282
13.03.2013

Portrait of a Generous Genius

Robert Reid-Pharr in the afterward to Samuel R. Delany's Phallos (2013)

One of the clearest markers of genius, one of the signs that a creative intellectual has unveiled some mode of thought or action that is at once elegant, productive, disruptive, and dangerous is the presence of an abundance of generosity.
He continues
Refusing to maintain the fictions of the so-called commonsense, his practice is both deconstructive and pedagogical. Like a magician who reveals the card tucked up his sleeve or the rabbit hidden inside an old-fashioned hat's secret compartments, the genius is first and foremost an iconoclast. His work is to force us to recognize that even our most cherished structures might be (must be?) dismantled. This is why when we encounter such individuals we are often so quick to either dismiss or ridicule them. In their efforts to disclose profound insights and novel techniques they strip away the "invisibility" of established forms and practices.
The masculine gendering makes it clear we are talking about him, you know — him.

And so for day 2281
12.03.2013

Body as Technology

Quill Christie-Peters in a posting at Tea and Bannock posits a decolonizing relationship with the body that taps into connection with ancestors. She likens the body to a technology.

My body, you have always been the ceremony to transform pain into creation, the gathering place of all our ancestors and spirit kin. My body. Our oldest Anishinaabeg technology. My body. Our oldest Anishinaabeg technology.

https://teaandbannock.com/2018/04/28/decolonial-love-letters-to-our-bodies-gwen-benaway-and-quill-christie-peters/
This may at first sound odd if one doesn't buy into Indigenous spirituality. But place it against this bit from Steven Shapiro about the discourses of the sexed body (he is contrasting Delany with Bataille).
For Delany, in contrast, sexual extremity is conceived not as a rupturing of the self, but as its continual metamorphosis — or better (to use a word from Gilbert Simondon and Bernard Stiegler) as its transindividuation, its becoming-with-others. For Delany, sex is a continual, and never-to-be-concluded, exploration of the intensities and extensities of the flesh. Sexual acts involve a whole range and series of bodily pleasures, and an activation of the body's previously unknown potentialities. These actions, and the potentialities they unleash, connect people more intensely to one another, and to the world as a whole. Far from involving a shattering of the ego, these actions help to define, and also to change, the contours of an evanescent "self" that does not pre-exist them: a self that has certain persisting efforts and obsessions, to be sure, but that is also open to the warmth and openness of contact with others, as well as to the vagaries of time and chance and Muddle.

Steven Shaviro
"Ars Vitae: Delany's Philosophical Fable"
Essay appended to Phallos by Samuel R. Delany
The space of the ancestors in decolonial theory might be likened to a "preindividuated milieu". But this is but a beginning.

And so for day 2280
11.03.2013

Border Patterns

Pretext, a quotation from Ronald Johnson A Line of Poetry, A Row of Trees

"Four Orphic Poems & A Song"

[...]

IV

[...]

'Patterns

are temporary boundaries', the moving countries

where nothing

is seen in isolation.

[...]
Intertext, some source finding thanks to John Latta
Johnson’s line “Patterns are temporary boundaries” is seemingly out of the writings of the Hungarian art theorist Gyorgy Kepes in The New Landscape in Art and Science (1956): “although we see it as an entity—unified, distinct from its surroundings—a pattern in nature is a temporary boundary that both separates and connects the past and the future of the processes that trace it. . . . Patterns are the meeting points of actions. Noun and verb must be seen as one: process in pattern, pattern in process . . .”

POSTED BY JOHN LATTA AT 7:26 AM TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2012

http://isola-di-rifiuti.blogspot.com/2012/12/notebook-ronald-johnson-walt-whitman.html
Witness, Four Orphic Poems appeared in Poetry July 1964; the lines that interest us are broken by a page break
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=104&issue=4&page=17

'Patterns

[page break]

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=104&issue=4&page=18

are temporary boundaries', the moving countries


where nothing
is seen in isolation.
Isolations necessary for connections.

And so for day 2279
10.03.2013

Solar Path Tree Ring

Ronald Johnson
The Shrubberies

slice, read rings of time
ourselves slight circlet
clamped immemorial bark
growing outward into dark
set ecliptic embowered
rooted embroidered light
Note "ecliptic" appears in several instances throughout The Shrubberies. Notably: "welcome, precise ecliptic eye".

And we blink like a tree forms rings.

And so for day 2278
09.03.2013

Mindful Mindworks

Antonin Artaud "Le théâtre et la peste" Le théâtre et son double sets up a brilliant parallel between the brain and lungs.

La seconde remarque est que les deux seuls organes réellement atteints et lésés par la peste : le cerveau et les poumons, se trouvent être tous deux sous la dépendance directe de la conscience et de la volonté. On peut s'empêcher de respirer ou de penser, on peut précipiter sa respiration, la rythmer à son gré, la rendre à volonté consciente ou inconsciente, introduire un équilibre entre les deux sortes de respirations ; l'automatique, qui est sous le commandement direct du grand sympathique, et l'autre, qui obéit aux réflexes redevenus conscients du cerveau.

On peut également précipiter, ralentir et rythmer sa pensée. On peut réglementer le jeu inconscient de l'esprit.
Speed up, slow down. Adjust the rhythm. Of thought. Regulate the play not of the unconscious but the unconscious play of the mind.

As aptly put by Mary Caroline Richards:
The second observation is that the only two organs really affected and injured by the plague, the brain and the lungs, are both directly dependent upon the consciousness and the will. We can keep ourselves from breathing or from thinking, can speed up our respiration, give it any rhythm we choose, make it conscious or unconscious at will, introduce a balance between two kinds of breathing: the automatic, which is under the direct control of the sympathetic nervous system, and the other, which is subject to those reflexes of the brain which have once again become conscious.

We can similarly accelerate, retard, and give an arbitrary rhythm to our thinking—can regulate the unconscious play of the mind.
Regulate -- not regiment.

And so for day 2277
08.03.2013

You Them Him

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost
"Circles Upon Circles"

A lyrical moment reined in by reality check...

I see a couple approaching you, and I hang back and wait. I look out onto Ball Lake and disappear the cottages, the docks, the manufactured beaches and waterfront. I imagine just two people in a canoe, with un-fancy sticks from the bush, knocking rice into the boat. I imagine my arms circling, circles upon circles. I hear the grains hitting the bottom of the boat. I hear the wind. I see ducks and geese sitting and eating and smiling because they showed us this first and they remember. There is nothing more gentle than this — nothing is killed, nothing is pierced, nothing stolen, nothing is picked even. I sing the song the old one taught me, even though he can only remember the first two lines. It's repetitive and you'll get lost in the canter. I suppose that's why it is a ricing song. Actually it's the only ricing song we have left.
The attention shifts back to that couple...
You're still talking to the couple and I wonder what's taking so long. I know you hate idle chit-chat. Your people recount the weather report and the news as a way of connecting without adding a single interesting thought to their tell. It's boring as fuck for me and I wear noise-cancelling headphones in public so I can't hear it. The kids are already in the backseat, plugged into their ipods, lost in screen. I walk by and I hear, I thought only the Indians did that. The sun spotlights his camo jacket and ball cap, and her faded high-waist jeans, her perm, her tennis shoes, their pride at living rurally instead of in the city. I turn and say, "What makes you think I'm not an Indian?" and I keep walking, leaving him to deal with the aftermath.
Note the shift between "you" and "him". With everything going on in this brief passage it is easy to miss. It wrenches the reader from the position of addressee to mere interlocutor. Roman Jakobson shifters. Émile Benveniste on pronouns.

"Them" as a "then" >>> you then him

A rupture in time and community.

And so for day 2276
07.03.2013

Gravity Levity

Ronald Johnson
A Line of Poetry, A Row of Trees
"Four Orphic Poems & A Song"

Newton
— it is said — did not show the cause of an apple falling,

only the similitude between the apple


& the stars.
Stellar — the shortening lines — a sort of free fall for the mind.

And so for day 2275
06.03.2013

SCRATCHING IN CAPS

ALL THE TEXT IN THIS BOOK (CLOUDS RUNNING IN) IS IN UPPER CASE INCLUDING THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE. IT TAKES A WHILE BUT THE READER ADAPTS. THE FINGER GLIDES. THE LACK OF PUNCTUATION INVITES US TO RE-EXAMINE THE BORDERS.

"A BLANKET MAP" IS A POEM WITH THREE GUIDING IMAGES: THE MAP, THE CAT, THE ENCOUNTER OF CAT AND MAP.

ART IS TERRITORY
THESE ASSEMBLIES OF THINGS
COLLECTED FROM MY WORLD
LIFTED FROM YOURS AND REWORKED
UNTIL THEY HAVE A PLACE IN MINE
AND NOW THE CAT IS INTRODUCED
NO LESS A STATEMENT THAN THE CAT
FACE RUBBING SCENT MARK
MIGHT FEEL GOOD
MIGHT FLATTER
PURR MIGHT PLEASE
AND THE CONCLUSION SPEAKS TO AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN BLANKET AND CAT
DON'T BE FOOLED
THIS ABOUT TURF
THESE BLOODY PAWPRINTS
I STITCH ACROSS OUR SHARED QUILT
AND SO THE SPEAKING VOICE AND CAT ARE ONE THANKS TO POET KIM SHUCK.

And so for day 2274
05.03.2013

Skateboard Trail

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost

"caribou ghosts & untold stories" (p, 33)

caribou ghosts & untold stories
bad timing
& smashed hearts
"travel to me now" (p. 47)
tell me stories about caribou & skateboards
fill my silence with pretty words
I like how over the course of many pages skateboards come to stand in for untold stories — no knowing where that might lead — and the ghostly caribou take on flesh...

And so for day 2273
04.03.2013

The Specifics of Universal Grammar

You gotta love the cheek.

The man asks me,
  "Do you speak Cherokee?"
But it's all I ever speak,
The end goal of several generations of a
smuggling project.
We've slipped the barriers,
Evaded border guards.
I smile,
"Always".
The ending of "Smuggling Cherokee" in the book of the same title by Kim Shuck.

A take on the power of naming.

And so for day 2272
03.03.2013

Combo Credo

The evidence is common knowledge (our tastebuds proclaim it) yet this nicely balanced sentence is a welcome reminder of the encounter at the heart of the preparation of good food.

Great food happens at the intersection of your ingredients and your imagination.
Daniel Patterson and Mandy After, The Art of Flavor.

And so for day 2271
02.03.2013

Colouration

Ronald Johnson
A Line of Poetry, A Row of Trees (1964) [Jargon 42]
"Wild Apples" ends ...

as a cow
may rust like
rock
I like how this just creeps up on you... the cow of a generic colour becomes more specific as the short lines sink into one's attention the impression of very sedate bovines as still as stone and as brownish red ...

And so for day 2270
01.03.2013