Stray slips transcribed:

The task of the asker is to observe and test.

Descriptions engage risks. For me they are contingent; they are hypotheses.

There is a scientific cast to these inscriptions on slips of paper that are used as book markers. There is also an admonishment to read carefully — with a bit of room to spare for carefree perusal.

And so for day 48


On Gore Vidal’s BookForum (Dec 06 /Jan 07) interview

I was prompted to read the BookForum interview with Gore Vidal by someone's reaction to the remarks about the death of an American readership under the rubric "in memoriam literati". It seems to me in reading the interview the whole question and answer exchange was conducted under the sign of irony.

I wonder if reading the words aloud circumvents the workings of what Vidal references as a “culture deaf to irony”.

The one passage in the interview that is novel for me and the one I find most challenging is the alignment of classical education, multiculturalism and a nuanced world view (the latter being a precondition for the appreciation of irony). Note that the question references Vidal as a “writer” not as a “famous novelist” [Vidal prior to this point in the interviews has to say the least problematized the category of "famous novelist" if not made it disappear from the discursive instance of the interview].

BF: Is there one book that you believe best evokes who you are as a writer?

GV: The one that I wish everybody would read is Creation. I spent years on that book, and anyone who reads it from beginning to end will learn about the Buddha, about Confucius, about Zoroaster, about Mahavira and the Jains. It’s very popular in countries which offer, more or less, classical educations. In the US, practically nobody knows about it because it’s not about family life, it’s not about marriage and divorce. Those seem to be the only subjects that American writers touch.

Ouch! Is that a call to read differently what already exists and not just an observation on the topics chosen by American writers? Yup. Vidal leaves open the door for correction of his "seem to be" observation. And that passage about readers, likewise: "I don’t think the novel is dead. I think the readers are dead." Readers are dead. But the reader lives.

The greatly celebrated American individualism is alive and well in the republic of letters. The reader, the individual in open generous response in front of the writer’s offerings, be they novel, story, essay or interview, is the incarnated in the memory of the great figure that concludes the interview: Montaigne.

"Names refuse to come when bidden."

Not naming is the essence of irony.


And so for day 47

Ecce Echo

The German for House of Commons could be back translated dually as the house under us and the house among us.

Interesting to note in passing that few people in the Euro tradition inhabit dwellings by occupying the roof top exposed to the open sky.

And so for day 46


Marquee screen saver words scroll left to right for months on end:

Nuance shades into meaning

and to be replaced by the following crawling across screen at the same tempo:

Attention is a reservoir of force

Sometimes sequels take a long time to emerge.

And so for day 45


Going through boxes of notes and came across a single page date 19/05/90 written in French about a Quebecoise author, Louky Bersianik giving a reading and ending the reading with a poem from an anthology about a killer's rampage that resulted in the death of fourteen women at the Ecole Polytechnique.

The note dwelt on detail. She closed the book as she was reading the last verse and put it aside as if to say voilà it's done. What struck me was that the poem suspended a final image for consideration: a brother and a sister going through the same door -- an image altogether absent from her work until now.

The note asks: what does it mean? The image and the gesture.

And in the same colour of ink below the note is an excerpt from Montaigne's Essays (Book I Chap. iii)

Nous ne sommes jamais chez nous; nous sommes toujours audelà

Never home always beyond.

Today I respectfully fold the note along the major of its creases (it bears the marks of having been kept in a pocket). The verso is blank. And I set the paper aside; the weight of the paper still lingering like an after-touch in the empty hand...

And so for day 44


wine - vinegar - tears - laughter - water

Wine leads to laughter which gives rise to tears interpreted as water.

Wine ruins laughter and without bypass runs to tears and hence water.

Water into wine goes by way of the vinegar dressing the salad that feeds the vineyard tender.

And so for day 43

Call & Response

olden silence        golden guilt

And so for day 42

Litter Transitions

The i

before the c

The i

after the c


here here

And so for day 41


waste knot        loose ends

And so for day 40

Signed Design

The pages of Kathy Acker's Pussycat Fever have borders designed by Freddie Baer. They complement well the themes of repetition and out of the edge of awareness behaviour to be found in the prose. As the narrator says "I do whatever I have to do whether or not I have any idea how to do it." and pages later, similar border similar sentiment: "In a moment or two, I saw that it was a young girl, my age. I ran down to her as if I were was running down to myself."

And so for day 39


Brigid Brophy writes in a forward to a book offers the image of reading Baudelaire's Poems in Prose as being akin to "picking through a box of marvellous but unstrung beads." The tempting rattle of marbles secures the tragedy of recitation for the

The images in By Grand Central Station are individually beautiful but beautiful also in the order in which they are strung.

And so comes this devotional note

Reading the book is like saying a tragic, pagan, erotic rosary.

and the assertion

The entire book is a wound. Even when its rhythm expresses the throb of pleasure, the pleasure is so ardent that it lays waste the personality which experiences it.

And so with potent magic invoked, I turn to the intensity of the intervals in the garland-like layout of the cover illustration by Janet Woolley and return again to the dispersing power of projections, the power to disperse both the depicted personality and the person reading aloud the text of that personality's experiences. The cover art suspends just as the reading does.

A rosary being said is meeting place that suspends prayer in breath. Of the many pleasures, catharsis is one that like the slipping of beads along a path releases self and self and self no matter how often is experienced the laying waste.

Path is to string as bead is to step. Rhythm is to beat as experience is to experience.

And so for day 38


Brigid Brophy writes in a forward to a book:

Reading the book is like saying a tragic, pagan, erotic rosary.

Reading comes to voice via a garland. A long way from blossoms to beads.

The images in By Grand Central Station are individually beautiful but beautiful also in the order in which they are strung.

And prior to this was the image of reading Baudelaire's Poems in Prose as being akin to "picking through a box of marvellous but unstrung beads."

The tempting rattle of marbles secures the tragedy of recitation.

And so for day 37


Lightbulbs are intelligent signs of lie. Heat & lumens illuminate. McLuhan equated them with information. Failed to distinguish bulb from the turned on filament.

And so for day 36


Sidewalks dotted with the remains of chewed gum. Gum not swallowed out of ignorance of the benefits of soluble fibre. The wicked wad deserves ingestion.

And so for day 35

From the Little Red Book

It is not a gardening manual. Still when I read it I have images of carnations sticking out of a rifle barrel.

Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Some power grows from there but not all.

The growth and replenishment rate of power sources is another factor to consider in mapping strategy.

And so for day 34

Dialogue of the Dead

Robert Duncan meets bp Nichol

low dawn        high moon

load on           off load

low down        up lift

And so for day 33


In Unix-land it is invoked by "ln" for link making. In i-Apple land under Classic it is Propeller + M and under OSX it is Propeller + L, both for "make alias". In Microsoft land, you can invoke it under Windows by Alt+F, followed by the letter _S_ [or mouse click File for the menu] for "Create Shortcut". There is no equivalent under DOS.

The one land is run on an ethos of sharing. The environment is one of multiple users.

The next land is infused by an ethos of friendliness. The environment is characterized by efficient use of resources: everything in its place and a place for everything and easy to cross-reference.

The other next land can be characterized by an ethos of being file-centred just as the word processing software it championed is page-centric and not document centred. There is great simplicity in being file-centred.

I like to think that in social terms, each contributed to the emergence of the conditions for widespread acceptance of the World Wide Web. Consider permission setting; recall Hypercard; and ponder the salience of page and file centric focus. All about container control. And container control is about boundary crossing, about a longing for extensions of community, and a belief that the personal is not always the solitary.

And so for day 32

swish equanimity

There is a hint of haute etiquette in certain groupings. For instance the radicals for earth, scholar, work, jade and life resemble each other.

Scholar squiggles are to castings as scholar wiggles are to aeration.

Work of the earth, life of the scholar.

And so for day 31


It is said that to promise out of hope fails only if one performs out of fear.

No fowl is foul.
No foul is fallow.

Please take flight without fright: swim, glide, slide away, advance retreat.

And so for day 30


In i-Apple land, Keyboard Viewer helps one slide into better typing. It provides a nifty kiss hiss of feedback. Typing one’s name is especially revealing for the spacing and rhythms it may hold in the hand.

A QWERTY user looking for a minor bit of hunt and peck fun can switch the keyboard to Canadian French - CSA (and try to spot the single key location of c cedilla). Dvorak is available for those willing to develop dexterity with another layout.

The Character Palette even offers Braille dot patterns (which is not the same as a Braille input device) and so one can practice "seeing" Braille. Thank you Unicode.

Those channelling the ghost of Ezra Pound can relish the fact the digit zero is depicted as relating to an ideograph containing the radical for "rain" and cry for joy in this our post-Babel Apple-i land.

And so for day 29

matter initials

Splitting non signals safely (ther ei spowe rcoming a tyo uwhe nyou attempt to spindle noise) involves or invokes a certain type of hearing. The phonetic weaves its way into the phonological by the royal road of loan words. There is for example the coming of the "ing" sound into French via such borrowings le parking.

Doing a little bit of a U Turn, one can imagine the mandarin mutations of pronunciation that greet the Greek letter Upsilon in the name of the collective "Groupe Mu". Graphological distinctions assists in the migration of sounds.

What sounds will travel via Unicode and the representation of a plethora of diacritical marks that it permits? And what of txtng? English "you" shortened to "u" and then translated to French "vs" for "vous" -- and by back translation there is a recollection of the days of typesetting where a "u" and "v" were interchangeable : "vs" is "us".

"M3" is a thousand sigmas reversed. How then shall the numerologists work?

There is power coming at you when you spindle noise and spin a platter.

And so for day 28


Windows over under windows are like hijab, nikab and burqa. and so too boys' hoodies.

And so for day 27


Lines from Susan Sontag's "Under the Sign of Saturn" collected in Under the Sign of Saturn gather together in a paragraph about the collapsing of time (which is not the same as “time collapsed”):

Benjamin regards everything he chooses to recall in his past as prophetic of the future, because the work of memory (reading oneself backward, he called it) collapses time. There is no chronological ordering of his reminiscences, for which he disavows the name of autobiography, because time is irrelevant. ("Autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life," he writes in Berlin Chronicle. "Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities.") Benjamin, the translator of Proust, wrote fragments of an opus that could be called A la recherche des espace perdus Memory, the staging of the past, turns the flow of events into tableaux. Benjamin is not trying to recover his past but to understand it: to condense it into its spatial forms, its premonitory structures.

Sontag's "perdus" when translated into English one could call the lost the unknown gives spaces in which to get lost à la Benjamim.

And so for day 26


the uncounted
the undated

"I really don't know life at all."

Larry Klein from one of the cards included in the circular box set from Joni Mitchell Both Sides Now

As we began the process of selecting the songs for this record, Joni came up with the idea of having the record trace the arc of a modern romantic relationship. I thought that this idea was innovative, exciting and especially appropriate considering that the focal point of her work has been an inquiry into the nature of modern love. The album would be a programmatic suite documenting a relationship from initial flirtation through optimistic consummation, metamorphosing into disillusionment, ironic despair, and finally resolving in the philosophical overview of acceptance and the probability of the cycle repeating itself.

The ever so improbable beauty of cycle repetition.

The results have surpassed our expectations. In singing these songs, I believe that Joni has achieved something quite extraordinary in that she has truly sung them as if, as Nietzsche would say, she had written them in her own blood.


The dialogue of the dead with the living ...

You're My Thrill

At Last

Comes Love

You've Changed

Answer Me, My Love

A Case of You

Don't Go to Strangers

Sometimes I'm Happy

Don't Worry 'Bout Me

Stormy Weather

I Wish I Were In Love Again

Both Sides Now

A play list. "I really don't know 'love' at all." So much more. So very much more.

And so for day 25


The words for an advertisement for an automobile very large upon the side of a building take on a special glow when the reader recalls the cars-on-ice montage as seen on the big screen in the cinema and the warmth of the freakish winter weather and one impishly imagines the luxury vehicles plunging through on a lake crossing:

Perfect Moments
Imperfect Conditions

Perfect conditions lead to imperfect moments.

But a moment is a condition.

How can one arrive at such readings more regularly? Recall Robert Aitken, a great student of Basho, in "The Search for Mind" collected in The Mind of Clover:

Realizing that greed, hatred, and ignorance aren't there is a deeper way to resolve them than merely seeking to forget them by looking on the bright side.

O the nuances of a deeper way to resolve! "Looking on" as distinguished from "looking at."

And so for day 24


Meredith Monk “The Tale” recorded in a 2:47 version on Dolmen Music challenges transcription. It is difficult to do justice to these two lines [?] among the others without reference to the vocables that surround their annunciation. There is not substitute for listening in situ to these lines [?] here transcribed in the order they appear minus material before between and after.

I still have my allergies.

I still have my philosophy.

Hearing them again evokes an other text by an other author remembering the sheer joy of sound reverberation inside skull and through the body as a whole.

Breath Control

"Don't talk with your mouth full."

The child mumble-hummed the cadences of speech with a mouthful of wet crunch. The precision was admired by the adult. A closed mouth. Using one's head to resonate round food lumps. So precise an understanding that could distinguish between talk and directed sound from the presumption of articulation.

"Nice control of the epiglottis."

"What's an epiglottis?"

A piece of cereal spilled out and clung to the lip. A hand raised to push it back in and wipe the spread of an impish grin as curiousness leapt out.

"A trap that prevents you from choking."

Now in the re-reading reversing, a choke that prevents a trapping, sometimes seems a more suitable reply.

And so for day 23

Past Oral

How is an atheist to read Philip Silver's translation from Felix Martinez-Bonati's Fictive Discourse and the Structure of Literature? Sincerely. Descriptively. Observe:

Just as there is a reduction or ellipsis of the basic narrative structure, there is also a kind of overextension of the logical privilege. Reading some works (pastoral novels, for example), we feel that not only the basic narrator but also the characters speak the unrestricted truth (in the double sense of being sincere and of describing the fact to perfection), even when they are not assuming the function of the basic narrator. What could be called the principle of angelicality (since each character becomes a mouthpiece of the godlike narrator) pervades such works, flattening the logical differentiations of the image of speech.

"Reduction" or "ellipsis"?. To answer the question, transcode as a shrinking or a silence.

Shrug shoulders, squint and shrink the god factor: "mouthpiece of the [...] narrator". Transform the angelicality angle. Before that happens focus on

a mouthpiece

and overextend "mouth" to "body".

A character becomes a body of the narrator. Avatars notwithstanding, "a body of the narrator" need not be read in an reproductive sense. It can assume a delegative form such in the case of parliamentary committees being bodies of the deliberative form that is a legislative assembly and an assembly can itself be a body of a sovereign will.

Bodies are produced. The bodies produce "of" are not always if ever produced "for". That is not an open question.

The overextension needs to be extend. Plural eyes see multiplication.

There lurks in the pastoral the grotesque. Just as there is a monological drive to a Burroughs cut up technique, there is also a reduction of the replication. The body instances (whole bodies or parts) no matter how numerous are caught up in the spirit of a single narration where it becomes difficult if not impossible to reconstruct the narrator as a single entity. Pastoral like folk tale belongs to and issues from no one in particular.

The head of a in question turns topsy turvy. How many pins can an angel dance upon?

What counts as a character? Does a character speak? What is this speaking? What does it mean to have an image of this speaking? Ponder the intersection of engraving [see etymology of character] and charades [origin unknown]. When the mute becomes a mouthpiece amazing constructions can be seen when the engraved is allowed to be silent.

The truth shall set you free to ask questions. The half truth like some kinds of ellipsis will privilege logic.

And so for day 22


Jean Smith in Everyday Mind collects a number of reflections including this deliciously ironic passage from Jon Kabat-Zinn Wherever You Go, There You Are

A student once said: "When I was a Buddhist, it drove my parents and friends crazy, but when I am a buddha, nobody is upset at all."

Substituting "gay" for "Buddhist" in the semantics at play in the student’s statement the intended target of chauvinism becomes suspect. GAYIST? BUDDHIST!!! Really! Ah, the politics of flaunting it.

Revisiting the statement: parents and friends also contributed to being driven crazy and if anyone is not unsettled or upset or kept a wee bit off balance, where’s the buddha nature?

However in the context of the play of becoming and being the statement takes on a certain resonance. When a person is coming out they drive people including themselves crazy; when they are out nobody including them is upset at all: they are so far out they are in.

Nice reversible slogan for the first century of the new millennium: Be out. Be in.

Keeps people in touch with the collective side of enlightenment.

And so for day 21


poetry in Robert Silverberg The Stochastic Man, these lines pages apart and yet necessarily connected by their improbability:

pale petrol nostalgia
penguins in the veldt

The first line is slightly modified from its near copy found in the text. A smidgin of a proposition has been lifted out in the transposition. Otherwise it may have sealed the suggested enjambement and ruined its balance with the hinted caesura. If it were not removed the “of” would cause the reader to loose the delicate tension between two readings: one showing to the one side the pale petrol penguins and to the other the veldt as nostalgia; the other, the nostalgia penguins at play in the veldt and ready to be ignited.

Both lines are used to characterize the same depicted relationship. Laying them out in this fashion here underscores the point iterated throughout the novel about frame of mind affecting perception and thereby the ability to act out of neither fear nor self-pity nor doubt. Silverberg does not explicitly connect the elements of the listing but the fashion in which the narration steps through the story underscores that All are linked by an “of” of boxes within boxes. Mind, perception, action. Fear, self-pity, doubt.

The “of” belongs there in the novel just as it does not belong here in the non-novel. There it serves to remind the careful reader that it is not nostalgia directly but a derivative that supplies the relationship:

What powered our relationship was the thinnest of fuels, the pale petrol of nostalgia, that and such little momentum as remembered passion can supply.

Nostalgia, like a veldt, is too vast to provide refuge on a human scale. It too is too small not to be a home a way for home.

Silverberg’s narrator may not have fully learnt the lesson (or is wise enough to allow the implied reader to project a koan). At the close of novel, he articulates a moment of writing in which the quotations from Monod and Einstein, quotations about chance and necessity, are set up as a choice.

I write this in early December, with the true beginning of the twenty-first century and the start of a new century just a few weeks away. [...] One of these statements is wrong. I think I know which one.

The reader remains ignorant if the implied reader is meant to be sensitive to the reinscription of doubt. Or to leap into faith.

And so for day 20


A break from channelling a William Blake ghost espousing Gandhi's philosophy in a media jam mode. A gem of juxtaposition found in book billed as by Kimberley Reynolds with Richard Seddon. In the Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms: A Handbook for the Artist and Art Lover the entry for "Putto" is followed immediately by the very brief "Putty Rubber" entry which cordially offers a cross-reference ("See ERASERS"):

[...] Artists often find the non-abrasive, ‘kneaded rubber’ (also know as a ‘putty’ or ‘plastic rubber’) eraser particularly useful as it can be shaped to a fine point and used to lift out pencil, chalk or charcoal marks without smudging [...]

What a nice definition to appropriate for satire: that which shaped to a fine fine point is used to remove marks without smudging. Of course in some schools of the art the smudging is as endearing as putti.

Lucid dreaming project inspired by Sixties psychedelica: putti swirling round an image of Gandhi hand tinted by Blake. The Renaissance dialogue of the dead revisited through posters and animation.

And so for day 19


Newspaper headlines blast. "[Insert Name] hangs." Weird prolongation. Grammar could be kinder to the State Ideological Apparatus. Avoiding prurient humour attached to the simple past form of the verb is easy. Some of the papers get in one word both tense and agency accurate: [Insert Name] executed.

Aware that the demonized escapes to haunt some writer will connect the looting of antiquities, the sacking of a city, the bombing of shrines, to the martyr defiled. Defiance to the end? With time it will be read differently this refusal of a hood. It is now. After all, the blindfold is for the benefit of the firing squad not the executed.

But he was evil. Human enough.

A film will soon be released Letters from Iwo Jima. Already the longing is there for honour liberally granted. Some sixty years and millions of conversations. How many human years will it take this time?

There may even be novels of historical reconstruction, novels that follow a trial conducted in an international court of law where the death penalty is not an option. Not an option: uninevitable. Indeed never a possibility.

Someone should translate Buffy Ste Marie's "Universal Soldier" into Arabic lingua franca and arrange for it a driving disco beat. And some producer should make singing and staging it like the compulsory sets in gymnastics, a mandatory part of those massive musical competitions. Japan would do it. Europe too. Can America?

The ice is thin all over the world. Might be worth breaking it more often in the proper places.

Someone is going to make that movie about that meeting at Reykjavik. And an other will begin the saga for a miniseries further back and turn to a President that granted, in the name of justice, pardon to another. And some will make lists of clemency and suspended judgement. Marcos. Pinochet. Etc. And look to South Africa's example. It has begun with Stephen Frears The Queen.

History will not judge the executioner harshly and will reserve no mercy for the ones who delivered the condemned man into his hands at such an enormous cost. They too will write their official versions. They better get good grammarians to look after more than those dangling participles.

And so for day 18