Word and Ding

Avital Ronell intro to Verso edition of Valerie Solanas SCUM Manifesto.

Valerie Solanas, who took no prisoners, took pleasure in the injurious effects of language and, with Lacanian precision, understood that words are bodies that can be hurled at the other, they can land in the psyche or explode in the soma.
Before one becomes overly confident about arresting her outrageous development in terms of psychotic aberration, it is important to note that psychosis speaks, that it often catches fire from a spark in the real, it is fuelled and fanned and remains unsettling because, as wounded utterance, it is not merely or solely demented.
Ronell points out the Solanas was taking aim at women too — as collaborators. This is a point she also expresses in an interview with Anne Dufourmantelle and serves as a bridge to talking about Catharine MacKinnon [American philo].
Elle est très radicale, parfois un peu comme Valerie Solanas, mais plus universitaire et même raffinée — elle pourrait donner l'impression d'être puritaine, mais elle ne l'est pas. […] Elle a mené dernièrement une étude sur la peur du viol dans la guerre, où elle dit que, bien qu'on ne puisse pas nier que les femmes soient violées pendant la guerre, on ne dit jamais, en revanche, à quel point les hommes se violent entre eux.
In Fighting Theory where the interviews are translated by Catherine Porter, there is a bit more offered to contemplate. Porter notes in her translator's preface: "As Avital Ronell read through my final English-language draft, she occasionally added material to clarify or extend an argument, once in a while deleted passages she had come to deem superfluous, and frequently made small adjustments in the language." And this collaboration nets the following result:
She is gripping, sometimes in terms of insight even a bit like Valerie Solanas, but more academic and even refined — she could come across as a puritan, but that's not what she is. […] Recently, she carried out a study on the fear of rape in war. In it she says that, even thought it is undeniable that women are raped during wars, in contrast no one ever mentions the extent to which men rape one another, performing rituals of mutual or hierarchized debasement that remain hidden from discourse of view.
In light of the revelations about Abu Ghraib, the keyword here is "extent".

And so for day 1448

To V.W.

It comes to me in the form of a pamphlet put out by The National Trust in 1972 with a lovely frontispiece photograph of the author by Cecil Beaton. In it she holds a garden implement and a cigarette holder with a German shepherd looking on. The photograph is dated 1958 and was given to the National Portrait Gallery by Sir Cecil himself in 1969.

She is of course Vita Sackville-West. And the pamphlet in question reproduces a poem first published by the Hogarth Press in 1931. The poem is called "Sissinghurst" and is dedicated to Virginia Woolf.

It opens

A tired swimmer in the waves of time
I throw my hands up: let the surface close:
Sink down through centuries to another clime,
And buried find the castle and the rose.
Time travel by near drowning.

And so for day 1447

Theory of Punctuation

Laurie Anderson. Homeland "Another Day in America"

And by the way here's my theory of punctuation. Instead of a period at the end of each sentence there should be a tiny clock that shows you how long it took you to write that sentence.
Notice the subtle pronoun shift from a speaking I to an addressed you. And the responsibility of the sentence creation is off-loaded to the reader. Read/write become synonymous.

And we can bring to the fore the Irish influence. Refer to Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West by M.B. Parkes [see page 23]. The Irish in adopting Christianity pursued a vigorous study of the Latin language. They tended to regard Latin as primarily a written or "visible" language. And introduced innovations in the display of texts.
These graphic conventions were derived from the processes by which the Irish had acquired their knowledge of the Latin language. They relied heavily on the works of ancient grammarians, which were based upon the perception of the word as an isolable linguistic phenomenon, and employed morphological criteria to establish a set of word-classes (which the grammarians called 'parts of speech'). When Irish scribes copied Latin texts they soon abandoned the script continua which they had found in their exemplars. Instead they adopted as the basis for their scribal practices the morphological criteria which they had encountered in the analysis of the grammarians: they set out the parts of speech by introducing spaces between words.

And so for day 1446

bad boys cont'd

In the nineties while the sex wars were raging, those of us on the pro-sex side tried our hand at writing erotica.

a hand reached for the frayed crotch. it was a gnarled hand. rough. it met soft denim faded and weakened so often had hands and faces rubbed there. it was an experienced hand. forefingers slid down behind the buttons of the fly and using the powerful square thumb as a guide parted the cloth brushed knuckles against the curls. no underwear. cock still trapped in the jeans. heat rising. the hand was steady sure and in no hurry to tackle the belt buckle.

yanking gently but firmly his pubes twisting and coiling them round his fingers he moved to ensnare more. his eyes rose to meet the fluttering eyelids and the lips slightly tensed of the man he held entwined. the tugging stopped. the eyes opened more fully. a recognition and a beckoning.
This reads like Andy Warhol (Blow Job) meets Samuel R. Delany (Neveryóna, or: The Tale of Signs and Cities). But that might be wishful thinking given that I have crossed a 1964 film with a 1983 novel around the kernel an email timestamped Sat, 12 Mar 1994. As the title of this blog entry reproduces the subject line of the email, there may be more, but this is all the archive yields. cont'd elsewhere. teasing like Warhol and like Delany, detourné.

And so for day 1445


An Exploded Sestina
Shannon Maguire

Post-plague reading, reassembling the Myrmidons — a selection of ant troops/tropes

winter is a virus that July hosts in her blue moon software

jostling syllables not like not at all like collagelision

each word
is an individual fruit
with her own seed

the best tasting
are grown wild
For "fruit" I almost read "form". And so is effected a "collage & elision" as I almost read "jousting" for "jostling". Almost. At most.

And so for day 1444


Robert Duncan in an interview with Ekbert Faas (Towards A new American Poetics: Essays and Interviews) is talking about his teaching at Black Mountain College and relates this little tale In response to the question "What do you mean by law?"

Well, that was exactly the question they were to address. And that poem, The Law I Love Is Major Mover, came because Jon [sic] [Joe] Dunn, who had that project felt that the law was just the law, you know, cops and robbers. I remember one day going into the library at the school there and he was pouring [sic] [poring] over everything trying to get it into his head. And nothing could have been more garbled than the account he finally gave. And when he finished I said to him: Well, Joe, when you write a sentence beginning with the word "the," aren't you already under the law of "the"? No matter what you do from here on, you are under its law. And I think that's part of what a law is. In other words, lawful action to me is total responsibility to what is present. So I began to realize that at the time.
In the poem referenced above, Duncan writes: "Responsibility is to keep / the ability to respond." ** It's Joe Dunn. According to memoir by Martha King in Jacket Magazine "Three Months in 1955: A Memoir of Black Mountain College" which reproduces a class list, on which appear the names "Joe Dunn — with wife Caroline" which I understand is spelt "Carolyn".

And so for day 1443

Garden Views

Joseph Addison
Spectator No. 63
[The forms of wit: an allegorical analysis]
edited by John Loftis

The essay outlines in a Spenser-like fashion the domain of the goddess of Falsehood and the minions of mixed wit to culminate at the essay's end with the domains left behind. The essay culminates in what is a descriptive passage that could serve as the locus classicus of enumeration of the aspects of the English garden and countryside.

As at the rising of the sun the constellations grow thin and the stars go out one after another till the whole hemisphere is extinguished, such was the vanishing of the goddess, and not only of the goddess herself but of the whole army that attended her, which sympathized with their leader and shrunk into nothing in proportion as the goddess disappeared. At the same time the whole temple sunk, the fish betook themselves to the streams and the wild beasts to the woods, the fountains recovered their murmurs, the birds their voices, the trees their leaves, the flowers their scents, and the whole face of nature its true and genuine appearance. Though I still continued asleep, I fancied myself, as it were, awakened out of a dream when I saw this region of prodigies restored to woods and rivers, fields and meadows.
As Addison gives us sunrise on domestic empire, we do well to recall that plant collecting amassed in imperial expeditions provided the foundation.
The collection of plants, as indeed of other categories of exotica, was contingent upon wealth and leisure, and was motivated by curiosity, novelty, exoticism and rarity. Those who established notable gardens were royalty and aristocracy, merchants, bishops, people with independent incomes. The act of collecting was part of the commercial exchange with, and exploitation of, other cultures. It is not surprising therefore that the collection, study and depiction of plants in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was focused on Holland, Germany, northern France, and England — the great centres of trade and colonial power. Sometimes plants were traded as a commodity — as with the tulip during the great speculative mania of the 1630s — or they themselves became the currency of exchange between botanists and collectors. Images were also exchanged, or produced in one locale and sent to another to be reproduced in books, as in the eighteenth century many of [Georg Dionysus] Ehret's works were made in England and sent to Trew for publication in Nuremberg.
Gill Saunders. Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration

The bridge here is the importation of plant materials from the colonies as is as documented in The Planters of the English Landscape Garden: Botany, Trees, and the Georgics by Douglas C. Chambers.

And so for day 1442

Cross Words

Wordplay is a documentary about the New York Times crossword puzzle setters and solvers. A little aghast. One of the talking heads claims that English is the greatest language.

Interested in comparing greatness by number of speakers? Check out the listing at ethnologue.com which gives the top Languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers. And for rhetorical good measure is Latin a greater language than English? Consider A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World and Robert Bringhurst's appeal that the work of Skaay and Ghandl ranks among the greatest literature of the world. On the dynamics of fame and literature see Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages entry for Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, a novel that plays with cultural forgetting and memory. The Encyclopedia provides readers with a quick reference to the language and work of Vondramach Okk.

[J]ust as curious, is the "made-up" language of Vondramach Okk, a tyrannical matriarch who decided that "since nobody ever took the poetry of political leaders seriously, it didn't matter what language she wrote it in". The language of Okk's poetry employs "both a phonetic and an ideographic writing system" and complex letters called "shiftrunes". Shiftrunes represent a structured sequence of changing pronunciation, a writing technique that allows the poet to contrast visual and phonetic relations (Delany's theme of difference sounds again in microcosm here). Okk's works include the epics the Oneirokritika and the Energumenika and collections of lyrics such as Lyroks and Hermione at Buthrot. No samples of her poetry appear in the novel.
Focussing on the question of crosswords, Quora collects some interesting replies to the question: Is there a written language in which it is impossible to create crossword puzzles? If not, replace "impossible" with "really hard".

And so for day 1441

From Sulby Auto-Minabinda to Hand Sewn

I recall recording a few colophon quibbles with the folding and binding information in a book issued by Coach House Press.

Its pages were folded on a Baumfolder, gathered by hand, bound on a Sulby Auto-Minabinda and trimmed on a Polar single-knife cutter.
I thought such a statement was an ironic inflection of technicity. I have since looked for images of the machinery, even located a few videos. I was prompted by the colophon found in the publications of Short Stack Editions.
Many copies of this edition were hand sewn with baker's twine by participants of YAI, a network of agencies that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find work opportunities and receive job training. Learn more at yai.org

Sewn by : [name signed]
Having wrapped an elastic round a perfect binding rendered useless by dried glue and a crumbling spine, lends a greater appreciation for all the paper products that I handle whether bound, folded, clipped or stapled. Celebrate the technicians and their merry ways at the Waysgoose: they work hard to keep it together. In this vocation they are bound.

And so for day 1440

Apprivoiser: to call a scan a facsimile

I recently found myself writing about the various versions of Archibald MacLeish's "Ars Poetica" and described the Poetry Foundation's digital image scan of the June 1926 Poetry magazine pages as a "facsimile". I realize that is technically that inaccurate — page size being the main factor that distinguishes a digital image viewed on screen from a print facsimile edition held in the hand. Still part of me wanted strongly to use the word "facsimile" to apply to the digital image. I am wondering if this were not an attempt to apprivoiser (tame) in the vein of Le Petit Prince.

- Non, dit le petit prince. Je cherche des amis. Qu'est-ce que signifie "apprivoiser" ?

- C'est une chose trop oubliée, dit le renard. Ca signifie "créer des liens..."
Creating new links using old words.

And so for day 1439

Cancellations and Blanks

The paratext indicates a "scrapbook" but some of the entries/poems would indicate a "diary". Found by Souvankham Thammavongsa.

Observe in the corner of the cover a simple diagonal line, almost decorative. But it is very declarative. It "takes out the month".

That very same graphic is found inside the book to mark time marked off for whatever reason. Months have the line drawn through. And there follow months that are blanks. A series of cancellations followed by blanks would lead one to believe that the recording had been abandoned. The effect of fading is almost perfect except that the series ends with a poem, "Warning". However the poetic voice in this last poem is no longer describing the "scrapbook" but is recounting the actions of the father whose scrapbook has been mined for the book the reader holds in their hands.

Brittany Kraus reading the same paratext gloms onto the refugee status of the father (I, onto the fact that the "scrapbook" is thrown away) and from there frames the whole book as a waiting for.
Thus, the reader becomes a participant in the refugee’s experience of waiting—for a letter, for a visa, for permission to enter.

Unmarked, Undocumented and Un-Canadian: Examining Space in Souvankham Thammavongsa’s FOUND Postcolonial Text, Vol 10, No 2
But the final poem appears to have nothing to do with waiting but with warding off. Its principle image is of a gutted pigeon tossed back as a warning. What being found was not always there. And not always being there can be found elsewhere. No need to wait.

And so for day 1438

Revisiting a Neighbour

Kim Kutner used to be a neighbour. A very pleasant neighbour she was. I am lucky to have some of her bookwork. I have discovered that she has since branched out to work in fabric. Some of her art is viewable at Kim's Suitcase and in a Flicker stream.

I still treasure a tiny book Rachel Wholebloom's Coming of Spring (1995) It is hand lettered and stitched. It's a gem.

I am particularly fond of a particular page because of where the narrative focalization chooses to rest its gaze. It's a unique perspective, there for just a moment, and the page turns and the story moves on and we are never to dwell upon "Rachel's middle hair parting". The image is exquisite because the reader is also parting with this instant of the story as the page turns.
[Rachel is in a video store. You, gentle reader, may remember those.]

She chose something she
had heard about, something
that looked familiar, something
advertised in an old newspaper
she had been rereading. She
took the video to the counter.
The clerk a man in his mid-
forties, smiled a gold toothy
smile as his eyes fell on
top of Rachel's middle hair
There is something iconoclastic about this little book. Although there are illustrations, none depict our protagonist. We are left to imagine her. All through telling details are told and tiny pictures are shown: the rubber boots, the city bus ride, the toast, the video cassette, and of course the buds beginning to open. Like the coming of spring an image forms of Rachel Wholebloom.

I, in holding the book, remember a good neighbour and wish her well wherever she may now be — somewhere where springtime comes cutting a pretty caper.

And so for day 1437

Lucent Lunacies

At the heart of stasis is repetition. À l'image-temps.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs


A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
This is what having seen the loop of planes crashing into skyscrapers has revealed again — there is a standing still in the jetztzeit. For us, finding Benjamin's notion in the repeated lines Archibald MacLeish's Ars Poetica.

How very interesting about the punctuation (or lack thereof). In the anthology The Imagist Poem edited by William Pratt, the lines quoted above from "Ars Poetica" have no punctuation marks at line ending. This for me lends more of the arresting effect when the identical lines are re-encountered in the reading. However, the Poetry Foundation serves a version from the Collected Poems 1917-1982 (copyright 1985) which version groups the stanza in sections and offers variant punctuation.
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
The Poetry Foundation also offers a facsimile of its publication in the June 1926 edition of Poetry magazine where the lines are punctuated differently (and no grouping of the stanzas) …
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs;


A should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
Pratt included in the Imagist anthology a version from Collected Poems by Archibald MacLeish 1917-1952 (copyright 1954).

So my stasis-as-repetition comment rests on but one version of a poem that exists in multiple versions. One tiny moment caught in the aperture of criticism.

And so for day 1436


Roland Barthes
Empire of Signs
trans. Richard Howard

"The Interstice" is about food preparation (tempura) and makes reference to the Branch of Salzburg. Which is a reference to Stendhal on the crystallization of love.

In the summer of 1818 Stendhal took a recreational trip to the salt mines of Hallein near Salzburg with his friend and associate Madame Gherardi. Here they discovered the phenomenon of salt “crystallization” and used it as a metaphor for human relationships. "In the salt mines, nearing the end of the winter season, the miners will throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. Two or three months later, through the effects of the waters saturated with salt which soak the bough and then let it dry as they recede, the miners find it covered with a shining deposit of crystals. The tiniest twigs no bigger than a tom-tit’s claw are encrusted with an infinity of little crystals scintillating and dazzling. The original little bough is no longer recognizable; it has become a child’s plaything very pretty to see. When the sun is shining and the air is perfectly dry the miners of Hallein seize the opportunity of offering these diamond-studded boughs to travellers preparing to go down to the mine."
Stendhal (1822). On Love. New York: Penguin Books
A different selection from the Stendhal source, crystallized around the branch of a French Wikipedia article and with a link to an optical scan of a 1906 edition.
C'est dans le chapitre 2 de De l'amour, intitulé « De la naissance de l'amour », qu'il décrit les étapes par lesquelles l'amoureux pare l'être aimé de toutes les qualités, certaines imaginaires : « Aux mines de sel de Salzbourg, on jette dans les profondeurs abandonnées de la mine un rameau d'arbre effeuillé par l'hiver ; deux ou trois mois après, on le retire couvert de cristallisations brillantes (…) Ce que j'appelle cristallisation, c'est l'opération de l'esprit, qui tire de tout ce qui se présente la découverte que l'objet aimé a de nouvelles perfections »
And so via Barthes and throwing a branch into the salt mines of the World Wide Web we capture the crystal of a reference to Gallica and its publicly-available treasures from the Bibliothèque nationale de France which into its search engine we throw "tempura" and become acquainted with the traces of French acquaintance with Japanese cuisine.

And so for day 1435


word image text - be mindful of the order

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum wrote (March 11, 2005) under the title "Being Read" a brief blog entry on the reviews to his "The Word as Image in an Age of Digital Reproduction" which has been published in Eloquent Images http://lte-projects.umd.edu/mgk/blog/archives/000762.html

In the comments I speculate…

It seems that in some fashion there is a lucid dream at work in the writing. It is a dream of parsing. A dream that unites the realms of production and reception, that plays with the fluid identities to which [Johanna] Drucker points. In the field of resistance and rapture that the electronic form of word, image, text, graphic engender, parseable pixels exist and are manipulable. But as in the classic dreamwork of Freudian psychoanalysis, the parseable pixel is neither a word nor an image yet it is inherently textual. The parseable pixel functions almost like computing's unconscious. Almost like a hint of irreducible materiality as the other face of textuality. Almost at most.
only just struck me that dreams are parseable too

And so for day 1434

Circling the Scan

This intriguing illustration appeared in a booklet put out by Worldstage at Harbourfront Centre. The design reminds me of the organizational development charts that track the factors at play in good institutional interaction. This isn't that.

It is almost unreadable on paper due to the colour bleed from blue to purple and from the selection of the type. Scanning however proves wonderful.

Here is the whole view.

And now the elements orbiting the centre core.
And the core

Intrapersonal, Ecological, Political, Personal, Cultural

And so for day 1433

Kiwi Attitudes

On engagement:

"typically at the core of the their motivation is a wish for their ideas to prevail"

State Services Commission. The Policy Advice Initiative: Opportunities for Management. (Wellington, New Zealand, 1993; rpt. 1995). page 41.
On detachment:
"analysts need to internalize the value of mobilising knowledge held by many, and that displaying advice to robust scrutiny is a good practice."

State Services Commission. The Policy Advice Initiative: Opportunities for Management. (Wellington, New Zealand, 1993; rpt. 1995). page 45.

And so for day 1432

Realms of the Real

Kant. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by Lewis White Beck. P. 55, n. 17.

Teleology considers nature as a realm of ends; morals regards a possible realm of ends as realm of nature. In the former the realm of ends is a theoretical idea for the explanation of what actually is. In the latter it is a practical idea for bringing about that which is not actually real but which can become real through our conduct and which is in accordance with this idea.
Somehow this mapping of a realm of ends from the actual to the possible may be a way of broaching the appearance of the "force" entity in the possible world semantics of fiction as explained by Doležel (See Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds). Needs some thought but there is something here to consider about a relation between actual and fictional: the real.
Doležel places discussion of these felicity conditions and performatives under the heading "World Construction as Performative Force". World construction is inflected towards questions of authority and authentification.

It is the characterization of a process, world construction, in terms of force that attracts my attention. I am intrigued by this aspect of the model. And I recall earlier in the monograph, a certain tension between the chronological and the logical is played out in the presentation of force as entity and its appearance in the catalogue of entities in the construction of a world. In a "starter terms" section, Doležel introduces first a world of states "where nothing changes, nothing happens". Then appears the nature force as a new entity and the result is that "[w]e have now constructed a dynamic world, where changes orginate in one, inanimate source." Finally, "[i]n the third stage, the world is augmented by a new category, the person". (Doležel 32)

Possible Intersections - Poeticity, Theatricality, Narrativity
Would it be possible to mediate the move from "force" to "person" via Kant?

And so for day 1431


word route or math path

lotto = taxed dreams
biodestiny = you die
And so for day 1430

Abstractable Time Lines

Seymour Chatman. "What Can We Learn from Contextual Narratology?" Poetics Today 11:2. p. 312

[Chatman is arguing against an undermining the discourse-story distinction.]

All that narratology argues is the difference between the act of telling (or showing) and the object told, and between their different temporal orders. All that it presumes is that these time-orders are abstractable for discussion.
This distinction, for me, can be considered as one of the theory-building primitives (as in not developed or derived from anything else) of systems of interpretation. I tend to think that such a split is not merely a feature of story telling but also a metadiscursive dimension of language applicable to other contexts:
As demonstrated by Émile Benveniste in his essay "Sémiologie de la langue", the sign system of verbal language possesses not only a communicative function, it exists also in a relation of interprétance to other semiotic systems. He links the metalinguistic element of verbal language to its ability to form interpretative relations between semiotic systems.
Whatever is presented is open to interpretation: analysable.

And so for day 1429

Cinema Capturing Chance: Constructing the Event

From the 1995 English Institute Conference, Language Machines (1997) Editors Jeffrey Masten, Peter Stallybrass & Nancy J. Vickers, in which appears Mary Ann Doane, "Screening Time", from page 147 of which I quote

What comes to be known eventually as "deceptive" in the reenactment is made harmless as "illusion" in the narrative film. Clearly, the progressive domination of the industry by narrative is overdetermined (culturally, economically, technologically), but from this point of view, narrative would constitute a certain taming or securing of the instability of the cinematic image. In the same way, narrative becomes the model for the apprehension of the legal unity of film.
The role of "narrative" in taming (I almost wrote "training" in transcribing the passage) is set up by the thematic of event earlier in the piece. See p. 141
The confusion of construction and contingency around the concept of the event is crucial in the historical elaboration of a cinematic syntax. At the turn of the century, contingency is both lure and threat, and this double valence is played out in the rapid representational transformation of the cinema. The embarrassment of contingency is that it is everywhere and that it everywhere poses the threat of an evacuation of meaning. The concept of the event provides a limit — not everything is equally filmable — and reinvests the contingent with significance — The contingent is in effect, tamed.
Story. Shot. Cut.

And so for day 1428


From Coach House Press. Both from 1988. Cover designs by Gordon Robertson.

from p. 76 from p. 62
someone stopped suddenly    someone dreamed

you're somewhere less than perfect
but reading the story
the white boletus
grows like a cherub, scented
with defunct cedar
from the back cover: from the back cover:
These poems follow a principle of randonnée ‐ the random and the given of the hunt, the game, the tour. the lyric impulse, suspends

the machine of the real
to feed on the possible
Robin Blaser D.G. Jones

And so for day 1427

Armenian as Lingua Franca

Mary Catherine Bateson
With a Daughter's Eye: a memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
New York: William Morrow & Company, 1984
pp. 85-86

She worked for years to improve international and cross-cultural communication, so at one time she was interested in the adoption of a world language and organized a conference on the question. At that time, it was becoming increasingly clear that two or three languages would emerge as the principal vehicles of cross-cultural communication, on the United Nations model. She worried that whether we relied on one or several major world languages, this would still enforce a line between those who were using their own native language and those who were trying to follow and express themselves in a second language learned in school, a continuation of colonialism. Instead, she argued, one of the world's minor languages, not associated with any great power, should be taken as a common world second language. In this way, all the effort of translation could be channeled in a single direction and the task of language learning distributed equally, while the other languages of the world would continue to be treasured as carriers of cultural diversity instead of being swamped.

When she produced this theory, my husband and I suggested that Armenian would make a good candidate because there are reservoirs of cosmopolitan and multilingual Armenian speakers all over the world and in both Eastern and Western camps. Afterward she referred to the idea in several speeches, along with other possible candidates. This made her a great favourite of the Armenian community who did not realize how their language would be changed in such a process and what it would mean for Armenian culture if the language ceased to be a private refuge.

In any case, the key element in her thinking was the notion that a real natural language would have to be used — not Esperanto, not Interlingua, not some computer construct — for only a real human language has the redundancy necessary for human communication. Artificial languages are designed by taking a set of abstract principles, observed universals or logically necessary components, and then using these as the basis for an efficient, consistent, and unambiguous system. In general, the task has been done badly, with the logic flawed and the characteristics of particular languages or language families treated as if they were logically necessary. The mistake is in the enterprise itself, however, as if human communication could be served by a system with no puns, no ambiguities, no lullabies, as if a human pattern could be constructed from first principles. In New Guinea she had observed the use of Pidgin English, now properly called Neo-Melanesian, which serves as a vehicle of communication among many different peoples who learn it as a second language, as Swahili does in Africa. She was more sympathetic to Pidgin than to artificial languages for it does provide an effective common ground, but it carries far to many of the marks of servitude and lacks the historical resources for nuanced communication.
Only a real human language has the redundancy necessary for human communication - puns, lullabies and historical resources - and variations on refuge.

And so for day 1426

Dream Source, Dream Process

From Richard Howard, "Oracles" in No Traveller.

       but who knows how such décor,
queer as it is, affects us? Between
       "it came to me in a dream"
and "I dreamed" lie ages of the world,
       but which is truer: spirits-
who-send-dreams or an-ego-that-dreams?
       We are not awake because
we have done away with the dream but
       only when we have swallowed
the dream once more, and digested it. . . .
interesting oneiric take on interior design

And so for day 1425

Writing Face Painting

Malinda Lo. Ash.

There's a scene where daughter and mother are preparing for festivities. It involves costuming and the application of make-up. And of course questions.

"But how will I know if I see a fairy?" Ash asked again. "If they look like ordinary people, I won't be able to tell."

"You'll be able to tell," her mother told her, "because wherever they touch, they'll leave a bit of gold dust behind." She put down the brush and turned her daughter to face the mirror. "Now look — there's the prettiest fairy I've ever seen." Ash stared at herself, spellbound. Her eyes had been outlined in silver paint, and the color trailed down her cheeks in wondrous curls of gleaming light.

"It is like magic," Ash whispered.

Her mother smiled at her, her hand touching her hair. "Yes, my love, it is."
Perfect mise-en-abyme. For here we have a flashback that could very well be a commentary on the art of storytelling itself.

And so for day 1424

Cardio Amplification

Helen Guri
Microphone Lessons for Poets
Illustrated by Cara Guri
Book Thug

They look ordinary and are — the seagulls of the stage, the squirrels of the lectern If a poetic mode, the male nostalgic. Please do not feed them or let them feed you back.

They are sensitive, but, as you might expect, only in the narrowest sense. They gather sound in a heart shape. (Of course.) This makes things simple: if you speak to the heart, you will speak to the microphone.

Testing, testing. 1, 2, 3, testing.

And so for day 1423

Memento Pronto

Did you remember to floss?

Avoidance and its affordances

Reminded by phone, I let the answering machine pick up; by email, I wisely haven't given an address. I do like receiving a piece of postcard art that can grace the refrigerator door or perch in an appropriate spot to remind me to make the appointment.

Scaling and polishing — almost like a spa day.

And so for day 1422

A Field Day with the Field Guide

Lesbian National Parks and Services Field Guide to North America: Flora, Fauna & Survival Skills (Pedlar Press, 2002)

It looks like a filed guide: strong stock, rounded corners, right shape and size to fit into the pocket of cargo pants. In it, Ranger Shawna Dempsey and Ranger Lorri Millan treat the reader to layered prose full of double entendre and designed to cultivate a respect for nature and safeguard lesbian presence. They drop names of famous lesbians like Charlene Nero and Clare Lawlor — they appear alongside other similarly named rangers to dispense advice.

Three morsels of their divine humour. On what to pack for snacks (p. 41).
Also pack snacks and water to maintain your energy level. Chocolate, dried fruits and nuts provide high caloric value and are easy to carry. Other foodstuffs, such as cucumbers, zucchini and Chinese eggplant often come in handy.
On naturalism veering into a sociological bent (p. 97).
Few among us can resist the roly-poly antics of romping Bear cubs, the startling grace of Prairie Antelope or the sullen pose of nocturnal Bar Rats.
On root systems and the analogy to lesbian networks (p. 224).
Junior Ranger Megan Richards has no trouble envisioning this underground support system. She knows that her emotional well-being depends upon a complex tangle of relationships, to girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-girlfriends' girlfriends, ex-girlfriends' ex-girlfriends and girlfriends's ex-girlfriends (not to mention their pets). Together, these women nourish and anchor J.R. Richards and are the basis of an often unacknowledged chosen-family "tree". Likewise, the root structure of a stately Live Oak or gnarled Pitch Pine, though unseen, is an integral and essential component of its being.
The best of the in-jokes is the dedication to Anne Murray, Canada's Songbird.

And so for day 1421

July 27, 2006 Eye Weekly review

Buried & Submerged

Fire of London. 1666. Samuel Pepys buries cheese in his garden. We don't know the specifics of the quantity laid into the ground. Whatever the amount, the cheese (parmesan) was esteemed enough to take precautions.

September 4, 1666

Sir W. Batten not knowing how to remove his wine, did dig a pit in the garden, and laid it in there; and I took the opportunity of laying all the papers of my office that I could not otherwise dispose of. And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another, and put our wine in it; and I my Parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things.
We know that Pepys house did not go up in smoke. We do not know the fate of the parmesan. His diary is silent on that matter.

We do know the results of a Canadian experiment with underwater cheese.
Letting it sit 50 metres underwater was supposed to produce a cheese that would taste unique, but the company had major trouble finding its sunken cheese.

I'd rather my cheese near a fire than drowned. Rather relish a bit of Welsh Rarebit.

And so for day 1420

Uncoupling Suffocation

Parked in a car looking out on a body of water. A man and a woman think back. Well one of them thinks.

'Remember,' he says,
'we'd walk by this lake
in the evenings,
when we were first married.'

The woman thinks
of the mornings
before she married
when she would run on the sand,
pushing her anxious silence raw
and breathless, stop
cradled by sky,
Helen Humphreys. "The Dock" in Nuns Looking Anxious Listening to Radios.

And so for day 1419