Ms. Gendering Man

Making Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights a "she" reveals some of the presuppositions that structure the novel. The question arises: who follows whom where?

This calls to mind another occasion.

Ti-Grace Atkinson opens a speech she gave "On 'Violence in the Women's Movement'" (in Amazon Odyssey) with such gender unsettlement to make a point about allegiance.

I am dedicating my remarks tonight on violence to Sister Joseph Colombo. I am referring to America's latest superstar, gangster, criminal: Joseph Colombo. You may have heard about how Superstar Colombo not content with his vertical media image, backed his head up into three bullets at Columbus Circle on June 28, 1971.
She at one point in her remarks tapped a picture to the podium.

In the book the photograph covers a whole page.

It is of course a provocation. Clear-eyed. Her peroration appears in all caps and rehearses the "sister" trope.

May we, the women here, make a Revolution.
Beautiful, revolutionary, fool, criminals ... <-- note the order and how is segues into the invocation of Colombo. Criminal fool. Beautiful revolutionary. He/she.

Who follows?

And so for day 2179

Bird Lore

Best single line I've seen in a while.

Don McKay. "Chickadee Encounter" in Apparatus

zippers, quicklings,
Darn smart all by itself and very intelligent in its context of the poem's conclusion that it triggers...
zippers, quicklings,
may you inherit earth, may you
perch at the edge of the shipwreck of state,
on the scragged uneconomical alders,
and chat.
Makes you want to join the party.

And so for day 2178

From the Land of Motivation

This is a little mnemonic to be mindful of critique even while working in the state apparatus.

EXPLORE: Ferret Out Information
IMPLORE: Foster a Culture of the Question
Gives new/old meaning to the term "collaboration".

And so for day 2177

We Are Lucky She Wrote and Not Only Spoke

Death of a Revolutionary
By Susan Faludi
The New Yorker

The ending is about the funeral rites for Shulamith Firestone

Firestone was buried, in a traditional Orthodox funeral, in a Long Island cemetery, where her maternal grandparents are interred. Ten male relatives made up a minyan. None of her feminist comrades were invited. “At the end of the day, the old-time religion asserted itself,” Tirzah said. Ezra [her brother] gave a eulogy. He lives in Brooklyn, where he works as an insurance salesman, but he hadn’t spoken to Shulamith in years, and he broke down several times as he told how she, more than anyone else in the family, had tended to him as a child and taught him compassion. He recalled a story she told him when he was a boy, about a man on a train who realized that he had dropped a glove on the platform and, as the train left the station, dropped the other glove from the window, so that someone could have a pair. Then he lamented Shulamith’s “tragic” failure to make a “good marriage” and have children “who would be devoted to her.”

When [her sister] Tirzah’s turn came to give a eulogy, she addressed Ezra. “I said to him, ‘Excuse me, but with all due respect, Shulie was a model for Jewish women and girls everywhere, for women and girls everywhere. She had children—she influenced thousands of women to have new thoughts, to lead new lives. I am who I am, and a lot of women are who they are, because of Shulie.’ ”
"even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins" — Walter Benjamin Theses on the Philosophy of History

Faith Wilding Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?
"Feminism" (or more properly, "feminisms") has been understood as a historical--and contemporary--transnational movement for justice and freedom for women, which depends on women’s activist participation in networked local, national, and international groups (8). It focuses on the material, political, emotional, sexual, and psychic conditions arising from women’s differentialized social construction and gender roles.

(8) Using the term "feminism" is very different from using the term "women"--although perhaps one should consider using the term "cyberwomanism," which acknowledges the critique of racist white feminism so justly made by Audrey Lorde, Alice Walker, bell hooks, and others.
Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex
Children, then, are not freer than adults. They are burdened by a wish fantasy in direct proportion to the restraints of their narrow lives; with an unpleasant sense of their own physical inadequacy and ridiculousness; with constant shame about their dependence, economic and otherwise ("Mother, may I?"); and humiliation concerning their natural ignorance of practical affairs. Children are repressed at every waking minute. Childhood is hell.
Go read the whole book. Don't take my word for it.

And so for day 2176

Knowing Making Telling

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Am I a Digital Humanist? Confessions of a Neoliberal Tool

"To the scholarly mind, every [sic] smallest datum of that inheritance has a right to make its call." In this McGann seems to follow Edward Said, who in Humanism and Democratic Criticism glosses Giambattista Vico’s famous verum factum principle — Vico is a touchstone for McGann too — as something like "We can really only know what we make" and "To know is to know how a thing is made, to see it from the point of view of its human maker." This ethos —  and the commitment to the arts of memory —  has become, as UVA’s Richard Rorty was wont to say, a part of my final vocabulary. I believe it is true, in so far as anything in this world is true, whatever epistemic frames might be thrown around it notwithstanding. It’s not that either the scholar’s art or the verum factum are sufficient on their own —  there are all sorts of considerations and contexts we want and need to bring bear — but this is where I start from. If it falls suspect to an ideological litmus test, if the space it opens for resistance or critique is insufficiently pure, then that’s it; I’ve got nothing left; I’m out of "moves." Better scholars and better players of the game than I have left it all on the field at that point. I’m off to go take a shower.

Or else I could just tell you a story.
I like the shift to simply telling a story which of course is another type of making.

And so for day 2175

Unfinished Finish

The non sequitur operates less like the lone tender shoot in a vase than a klang.

The struggle of the tree to overcome the relentless forces of the environment can be found in its every fibre. Its fight for life, staged over the centuries, is clear in the grains and the knots, in the branches that have striven to catch the energy from the sun and the roots that have sought food and stability in the soil. There are trees with gnarly barks and unique shapes that represent some of nature's most engaging sculptures, for they are the perfection of imperfection.
Andrew Juniper
Wabi Sabi: the Japanese Art of Impermanence

The "perfection of imperfection" phrase is a blight. A meaningless paradox (which is perhaps the source of its meaning).

perfection: etymology - from the Latin - to complete

As such the paradox rests at the terminus of the paragraph, an apt situation. However the completion theme is discordant because of the invocation of the cycle of nature prior to its concluding appearance:
The tree grows from a seed and will eventually, move the course of a few hundred years, reach the end of its life and then return to the soil where its decay will sustain other trees. The struggle of the tree [...]
Apotheosis of the aesthetic object doesn't quite work in this setting. Perfection and completion remain but way stations. Of interest, passing.

And so for day 2174


Quentin Crisp
Manners from Heaven

So if you are determined to speak evil of people you must do so behind their backs. You just have to hope that what you say isn't reported. In any case the breach of manners then passes to the person who repeats what you have said.
Interesting attribution of responsibility.
Now don't tell.

And so for day 2173

French Frogs

Tour de force. Forceful turn.

Gillian Sze
"Sound No 5"

Humans, too, imitated the frogs — koa koa! — and begin to ask questions, Quoi? Quoi? We turned to each other and hands groped, demanded, Que sexe est? or Qu'est-ce que c'est? Years and years, the room croaked without tails or answers. Even now everyone is still screaming up into the black air — What! Now and then, a game of echo. Now and then, a new sound.
Puts me in mind of another homophonic treatment: aid loan = alone

Unique, eh!

And so for day 2172

Crying Foul on the F word

Quentin Crisp
Manners from Heaven

People are more likely to forgive you for uttering expletives under stress than for decorating an ordinary conversation with obscenities. A steady diet of the shortest-words-for-the-longest-things is never a very good idea for you may give offence, which is bad manners, and you will certainly make your conversation monotonous, which is bad style.
The occasional F*bomb is forgiven.

And so for day 2171

once more more

Gillian Sze
From "Panicle" in Panicle

What do you see?
Fog lurking along the street.

What does it bring?
A sudden surge of birds from around the corner.

What do you hear?
Shrapnel of wings.

What do you call this?
An encore

And so for day 2170

Skill and Rhetorical Finesse

Basil Johnston Ojibway Heritage
Daebaudjimod - the Raconteur

So skilled was [he] that he could hold an audience in his hand for an evening and even for a winter. Daebaudjimod knew hundreds of stories, but even more marvellous, he could make up stories. He told real stories, he told stories that could not possibly be true. Still, people listened. He could, with stories, make people laugh and cry; he could make them wonder and think; he could make them proud by remembrance and fearful by his tales of the future.
Johnston displays lots of the same skill.

And so for day 2169

Almost a Sales Pitch

Ian Brown "A Biography of Cannabis" in the Globe and Mail

Cannabis makes it impossible to remember all the details that threaten to drown us, and lets us concentrate on the one after the other, laterally and forgetfully. It impairs us, but in doing so allows us to experience the world not as masters of the entire universe but as liberated goofball bystanders, freed from the world's and our own blinding compulsions and expectations.
Of course there are relaxation techniques that operate on the body's innate chemical basis. It happens that "Cannabis does the same thing, just harder and faster."

And so for day 2168

Intergenerational Cultural Touchstones

Richard Sanger
Dark Woods

One of the pieces in this collection features the figure of a tree planter as recalled within the recollection of a father driving a son home...

the song I used to listen to at his age,
for him now, I imagine how he first heard it
in someone's tent, perhaps, and the whole next day
humming it as he stomps through the clear-cut,
sinks his shovel, twists the handle, plops a seedling in,
tamps down the soil with his toe, takes two steps
and does it all again, the same five actions
The hummed tune, the repetitive action ... tree planting as a meditative art?

The song btw is a Joni Mitchell tune.

And so for day 2167

Parsing Network Effects

Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter Organization After Social Media

In the information society passivity rules. Browsing, watching, reading, waiting, thinking, deleting, chatting, skipping, and surfing are the default conditions of online life. Total involvement implies madness to the highest degree. What characterizes networks is a shared sense of a potentiality that does not have to be realized. Millions of replies from all to all would cause every network, no matter what architecture, to implode. Within every network there are prolonged periods of interpassivity, interrupted by outbursts of interactivity. Networks foster and reproduce loose relationships - and it's better to face this fact straight in the eye. They are hedonistic machines of promiscuous contacts. Networked multitudes create temporary and voluntary forms of collaboration that transcend but do not necessarily disrupt the Age of Disengagement.
Disengagement is associated with aging. Here the "Age of Disengagement" means something else.

Multitude: The multitude is a concept of a population that has not entered into a social contract with a sovereign political body, such that individuals retain the capacity for political self-determination.

Transcend vs disrupt. Involuntary collaboration? Possible in scenes of occupation.

Unoccupied networks... Partial noninvolvement...

default conditions of online life
custom conditions of offline death

Partial noninvolvement...
default conditions of offline life
disruption without transcendence

And so for day 2166

Sun & Moon: West & East

Gillian Sze
"Blood Sign #2"
The Anatomy of Clay

How many of us have fallen
into water while trying to catch the moon
or during a waxen flight sunwards?
Allusion to Icarus and the Zen trope of moonlight in a puddle.
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

I'd fall for the beauty of the conjunction, every time. Fall for proximity of the notion of striving and adequate perception.

And so for day 2165

Reconstructing (de)Colonial Deconstruction

First deconstruction: love in hand

be a jack-of[F]-all-ndns
Second deconstruction: rebooting
i have made a life of s[c]ham[e]
[ctrl]definesshame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness
of wrong or foolish behaviour
[alt]definescham: etymologically shame comes from an indo-euro word which referred to
covering the face
[del]definesham: falsely present something as the truth; bogus; false; a pillow sham
Third deconstruction: re(pair)
so i've decided to break it
in - dig - e - nous
nóein, nóēsis, niyanán
niyanán - we/us (excluding you); kiyánaw (incl.) = we/us (including you)

First Reconstruction: the setting
instead i dance in pool halls to rihanna
"bitch better have my money"
wait for the sharks to get horny
get them off for another beer
reassure them that everyones a little gay
honey-boo-boo even told me so
channel app to exoticate myself
be a jack-of[F]-all-ndns
"thank you, come again"
tell him, "hey bo'
this is treaty 1 territory
so you may as well treat yourself too"
Second Reconstruction: the set
I'm not sure i like the word "indigenous"
when it simply divides, crippled, dying
by fighting each other to hold its hand
so I've decided to break it
in - dig - e- nous
nóein, nóēsis, niyanán
bound by the wounds that tell our stories
feeling love & pain together
indigeniety can encompass so much more
if we interject, intersect, interlay
not compete or compare
share, grow together, sideways
woven together like kokums hair
braided, queer & punk
channelling our minds
like a honeycomb
to bind, break, reclaim
reject the greed fingers
of settler colonialism
Third Reconstruction: ctrl+alt+del - transforms from

Joshua Whitehead
Full-Metal Indigiqueer

First Deconstruction - "april 5: pass[hang]over"
Second Deconstruction - "to my mister going to bed"
Third Deconstruction - "the hive"
First Reconstruction - "april 5: pass[hang]over"
Second Reconstruction - "the hive"

And so for day 2164

Reading Conditions

I love the camp tone of this opening... at least camp to me.

The Perfect Library

Imagine, if you will, a perfect library
where the reading room is lit by the soft
pulsing lights of fireflies & the wood that furnishes it
is from exquisite trees felled by mountain men
with bulging biceps.
"The Perfect Library" in If The World Were To Stop Spinning by David Clink.

And so for day 2163

Tumbling Tops and Bottoms

This wee bit of ekphrasis is short. And these two lines from it operate in a way similar to the point at the waist where grain follows grain. Form reflecting description.

Glass is your horizon, your world where
wood is both a ceiling and a floor.
"Hourglass" in If The World Were To Stop Spinning by David Clink.

And so for day 2162

Libraries of Tears

Time passes. Pain does not. And upon rapid reading, book with tear is stained.

Accept, thou shrine of my dead saint,
Instead of dirges this complaint;
And for sweet flowers to crown thy hearse,
Receive a strew of weeping verse
From thy grieved friend, whom thou might'st see
Quite melted into tears for thee.
Dear loss! since thy untimely fate
My task hath been to meditate
On thee, on thee; thou art the book,
The library whereon I look,
Though almost blind. For thee (loved clay)
I languish out, not live, the day,
Using no other exercise
But what I practice with mine eyes;
By which wet glasses I find out
How lazily time creeps about
To one that mourns; this, only this,
My exercise and business is.
So I compute the weary hours
With sighs dissolvèd into showers.
Henry King. "The Exequy" in Seventeenth Century English Minor Poets edited by Anne Ferry.

And so for day 2161

Circle: Book, Hand, Book

As the light fades, no attempt to bring on artificial lighting. This is how "A Happy Birthday" ends — on the image of the hand.

I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of a hand.
This is the last poem in the collection and the "ghost hand" merges with that of the reader who has the leisure afforded by (artificial) light to resume reading at the beginning which is indeed a kind of ending...
This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
The descriptive opening in the past indicative has great serenity compared with the optative of the closing lines — the hand trembles at what is intimated. And so we move the hand and close the book, for now, on this selection from Ted Kooser's Delights and Shadows.

And so for day 2160

Lines & Lives

"Stop. Start Again."
from Richard Sanger
Dark Woods

On the last day of the year, in the last year
of the century I was born in,
I went into the woods with my brothers.
It was cold, there was a wind,
and we skied to warm ourselves
and harder still as we raced, testing each other
the way we did when we were boys.


We stood, the creaking stopped,
and then we started off again,
our skis imprinting their lines
in the uncomplaining snow, lines
that would be there, or gone, in the morning.
I like how the temporal determinations of mortality are abridged, for a while, until morning be past or the traces gone.

And so for day 2159

Blousy Blooms

Gillian Sze has an impeccable eye for the cartographies of sensuality. Take this bit from "Mapping the Garden" in Peeling Rambutan . . .

A brothel of lilacs
Four bushes of heavy-chested women.
Their embraces can last two weeks.
They jostle you between them,
their perfume solid as solder.
In my first quick glance over these lines, I carried over the "i" of "solid" and found a "soldier" under the "solder". No wonder: apply a bit of heat and it fuses.

And so for day 2158

Love of a Bookish Sort

Edmund White The Burning Library "Nabokov: Beyond Parody"

I may also seem to be saying that if Lolita, the supreme novel of love in the twentieth century, is a parody of earlier love novels, we should not be surprised, since love itself — the very love you and I experience in real life — is also a parody of earlier love novels. I have even intimated that conflicts in love, whether they are those between Onegin and Tatiana or Humbert and Charlotte or you and me, are attributable to different reading lists — that amorous dispute is really always a battle of books.
How subtle to play the you and me game of identification and place the reader (me) in parallel with the love object.

And so for day 2157

How inexhaustible is the human mind?

This passage from Northrop Frye strongly suggests the verum factum principle of Vico that links the true and the made.

Truth is always a beginning; it can never be the end of anything in this world, for there is no end it can come to except the mind in which it began. When the reason discovers a rational order in the universe; when the artist discovers that the world is beautiful, these discoveries are partly a matter of falling in love with one's own reflection, like Narcissus. Even when submarines swim under the pole and rockets circle the dark side of the moon, it is still the shadows of truth that are outside us; the substance is in ourselves. It is not the world that we contemplate but the world that we create which is important to us. The sources of creative power in the human mind are inexhaustible. If we could realize that they are infinite and eternal as well, and that the human mind is therefore linked in its nature and destiny with a divine mind, that would be the final motive for learning and the final guarantee of its value.

From By Liberal Things [his address upon his installation as Principal of Victoria College, 1959]
The tautology rests on the distinction between the created and the contemplated. A phenomenologically inclined view would be less easy with the separation. Perception is in part a power of filling in what is there. And is in part limited.

Though Frye begins and ends in the infinite and the divine, there are other ways to square the circle and find reason for human humility. Take this example offered by Charles M. Schulz in Peanuts where our characters have a different take on what constitutes a beginning.

And there is no telling which came first in my encounters: Frye or Schulz. Or in your reading.

And so for day 2156

Set and Setting: Cognitive Cogitations

A few generalizations...


Pedagogical situations are sensory. They are also interpersonal. Because they are sensory this makes even learning by oneself interpersonal. Egocentric speech is like a dialogue between the senses. In Vygotsky's and Luria's experiments, children placed in problem-solving situations that were slightly too difficult for them displayed egocentric speech. One could consider these as self-induced metadiscursive moments. The self in crisis will disassociate and one's questionning becomes the object of a question.
An encounter with similar preoccupations...
Learning Edge

When we are on the edge of our comfort zone, we often are in the best place to expand understanding, take in a new perspective, and stretch awareness. We can learn to recognize when we are on a learning edge in this course by paying attention to internal reactions to class activities and other people in the class. Being on a learning edge can be signalled by feelings of annoyance, anger, anxiety, surprise, confusion, or defensiveness. These reactions are signs that our way of seeing things is being challenged. If we retreat to our comfort zone, by dismissing whatever we encounter that does not agree with our way of seeing the world, we may lose an opportunity to expand understanding. The challenge is to recognize when we are on a learning edge and then to stay there with the discomfort we are experiencing to see what we can learn.

Source: Adams, M., Bell, L.A., Griffin, P. (2007). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. Second Edition. New York: Routledge Taylor & Frances Group. (p. 55)
Still there is a distinction to be drawn between discomfort and distress.

A few lessons from the past via an interview with Michael Pollan.
After decades of dormancy, psychedelic research makes a comeback
People do have bad trips on these drugs. They’re very powerful and they don’t have a set response in people. For some people, it brings up trauma they haven’t dealt with. “Set” and “setting” are really key terms, [which refer to] your mindset going in and the setting in which you take the drugs. And if these are frightening in any way, that will be exaggerated.

In a clinical setting, bad trips actually become very productive because they bring up important psychological issues.
Similar observations can be made whether sitting zazen or practicing walking meditation ...

And so for day 2155

Before Commodities

Echoes of an economy of the gift...

When I was six, my grandmother also took me with her to the newly harvested rice fields to take part in the open-air feast that fulfilled so many functions, practical and symbolic. It rewarded all the neighbours who had helped to cut, thresh and bring in the rice, for everything had to be done by hand. It "paid off" her debts of hospitality to people who had invited members of our family to their celebrations. For poorer families, not only was it a treat that provided nourishment for those who came to the feast, but it fed those left at home as well: more food was provided than the guests could possibly eat, and everyone was expected to take away a share of the unserved dishes for those who were unable to work in the harvest. This was not charity, but a reward for what the grandparents had done, and what the children would one day do, to carry on the life of the community. In a more prosaic way, the feast was a contest among the neighbourhood wives, each determined to show off her cooking skills and, if possible, those of her marriageable daughters.
Sri Owen. The Indonesian Kitchen

And so for day 2154

Intersection of Temporalities

To the writing belongs one time series.

In Wabi Sabi, a book by Mark Reibstein with art by Ed Young, there "are Japanese haiku that appear decoratively throughout the book." They are also gathered at the end with transliterations and translations. This one by by Shiki caught my eye because of its phenomenological inflections.
for me leaving
for you staying
two autumns
To the reading belongs another time series.

And so for day 2153

Pause and Tumble

from "Beds" in Can I Finish, Please? by Catherine Bowman

These lines float like a haiku in the onrush of lines...

you are enskied
         in the mockingbird's
              indwelling song
See what I mean by tumble...
you are enskied
         in the mockingbird's
              indwelling song

as it concocts
         a soporific
              of wolves apples,

and aftershave,
         gossip and flattery
              and all the daily

         salty and unmelodious—
              this scent bottle,

clouds of cosmos,
         mallow and iris
              and marigold—

[and so on]
[and so on]
[and so on]
"Enskied" and "indwelling" harken to Hopkins but the riot of flowers lead elsewhere, to Chaucer, perhaps...

And so for day 2152


Diana Vreeland in Allure

Fashion is a passing thing — a thing of fancy fantasy, and feeling. Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well-dressed. It's a quality possessed by certain thoughts and certain animals. [...] Elegance [...] is refusal.
And introducing the evidence from one of her own spreads in Allure

On the left, Edith Sitwell by Cecil Beaton; on the right, Gertrude Stein by Horst P. Horst.

And so for day 2151

Continuously Coming Out

It's me. Picture taken by my friend Nella and if you look closely there's our friend Diana in the background. It was taken after a talk given by our photographer friend Rita.

Gay man. Aged 57.
My sidebar comment is inspired by Rachel Giese in the Globe and Mail, "Lose the plot: Why there’s more than one queer narrative". She observes
Coming out doesn’t guarantee a happy ending, in life or in movies. But being out affords the opportunity to exist on your own terms and, hopefully, be seen in the fullness of your humanity.
She's right. It makes a difference. Life offers constant opportunities for coming out. The mode of being out involves perpetual revelations. At any age.

And so for day 2150