bill bissett
what fuckan theory: a study uv language

so yu dont need th sentence
yu dont need correct spelling
yu dont need correct grammar
yu dont need th margin
yu dont need regulation use of capital nd low case etc
yu dont need sense or skill
yu dont need this
what dew yu need
What the transcription doesn't show is the broken "d" throughout.

The deontological beckons to the ontological — the broken "d"
so yu -ont nee- th sentence
yu -ont nee- correct spelling
yu -ont nee- correct grammar
yu -ont nee- th margin
yu -ont nee- regulation use of capital n- low case etc
yu -ont nee- sense or skill
yu -ont nee- this
what -ew yu nee-
Moral: language is the basis of morality — this sense and skill beyon

And so for day 2335

Kindness - Organization - Resistance

He seems to have a bug-a-boo about online relationships...

Christopher Hedges
America, The Farewell Tour

We have a brilliant peroration close to the end of the CBC Ideas show he quotes from his book and this is what he says about the topic of resistance at 52.07

Those who fight against cultural malice [...] have discovered that life is measured by infinitesimal and often unacknowledged acts of solidarity and kindness. These acts of kindness like the nearly invisible strands of a spider's web spin outward to connect our atomized and alienated souls to others. This belief held although we may never see empirical proof is profoundly transformative. But know this, when these acts are carried out on behalf of the oppressed and the demonized, when compassion defines the core of our lives, when we understand that justice is a manifestation of love, we are marginalized and condemned by our sociopathic elites. Those who resist effectively in the years ahead may not be able to stem economic decline, the mounting political dysfunction, the collapse of empire and the ecological disasters but they will draw from acts of kindness and the kindness of others, the strength and courage to endure. It will be from these relationships, ones formed the way all genuine relationships form, face to face, rather than electronically, that radical organizations will rise from the ashes to resist.

Intrigued I went to the book (aided by an index where the term "kindness" appears — no entry for "electronic"). I noticed that the aside is starker in the book (my transcribing commas here are dashes there)
But they will draw from acts of kindness, and the kindness of others, the strength and courage to endure. It will be from these relationships — ones formed the way all genuine relationships form: face to face, rather than electronically — that radical organizations will rise from the ashes to resist.

p. 22
Political rhetoric has been replaced by the crude obscenities of reality television, the deformed and stunted communication on Twitter, professional wrestling, and the daytime shows in which couples discover if their husband or wife is having an affair. [...] These electronic hallucinations [...] have replaced reality.
p. 39
Pireaus was filled with taverns and brothels. [...] Pireaus was where elaborate spectacles and bawdy entertainment diverted the population from the sober vocation of citizenship. It was what the arena was to ancient Rome, what electronic screens and huge sporting events and concerts are to modernity.
p. 40
These distorted images of reality — our array of electronic images were beyond Plato's imagination — provoked irrational desires. It was a visionless life.
p. 83
Many people, especially young people, sit far too long in front of screens seeking friendship, romance, affirmation, hope, and emotional support. This futile attempt to ache a human connection electronically, a connection vital to our emotional and psychological well-being, especially in a society that condemns so many to the margins, exacerbates the alienation, loneliness, and despair that make opioids attractive.
p. 217
This is more about mood modulation. Affect modulation. Using technologies to dampen anxieties and exit the world. We don't just see it in Las Vegas. We see it in the subways every morning. The rise of all of these screen-based technologies and the little games that we've all become so absorbed in. What gamblers articulate in a desire to really lose a sense of self. They lose time, space, money value, and a sense of being in the world.
p. 232
The disparity between the glittering world that people watch and the bleak world they inhabit creates a collective schizophrenia. It manifests itself in diseases of despair — suicides, addictions, mass shootings, hate crimes, and depression. We are to blame for our own misfortune.

Hope means rejecting the thirst for public adulation. It means turning away from the maniacal self-creation of a persona that defines social media. It means searching for something else — a life of meaning, purpose, and, ultimately, dignity.
pp. 250-251
"We have to listen to people unlike ourselves," [Michael] Gecan said, observing that this will be achieved not through the Internet but through face-to-face relationships. "And once we've built a relationship we can agitate them and be willing to be agitated by them."


The corporate state, he said, has learned how to manipulate protests and render them impotent. He dismissed as meaningless political theater the boutique activism in which demonstrators coordinate and even choreograph protests with the police. Activists spend a few hours, maybe a night, in jail are "credentialized" as dissidents. Pecan called these "fake arrests." "Everyone looks like they've had an action," he said. "They haven't." [...] "There things have to be happening in great organizations: people have to be relation, people have to be learning, people have to be acting," he said.
pp. 308-30
There is no shortage of artists, intellectuals, and writers, from Martin Buber and George Orwell to James Baldwin, who warned us that this dystopian era was fast approaching. But in our Disneyfied world of intoxicating endless images, cult of the self and willful illiteracy, we did not listen. We will pay for our negligence.
Cult of the self / care of the self

When I first heard the kindness passage on CBC, it seemed to me that Hedges's demonizing of electronic communication was a tick that betrayed a return of the repressed. Having read the whole book I would suggest that it is a form of nostalgia. In his railing against magical thinking, Hedges risks missing the thinking that does occur online.

That said, the socialist programme he summarizes (pp. 304-305), is set in the context of constant struggle:
There will be a never-ending battle of ideas, those spun out by the elites to justify their privilege and power and the radical theorists who will expose the ideas as tools of repression and hold up an alternative.

We cannot pick and choose whom among the oppressed it is convenient to support. We must stand with all the oppressed or none of the oppressed. This is a global fight for life against corporate tyranny. We will win only when we see the struggle of working people in Greece, Spain, and Egypt as our own struggle. This will mean a huge reordering of our world, one that turns away from the primacy of profit to full employment and unionized workplaces, inexpensive and modernized mass transit, especially in impoverished communities, universal single-payer health care and banning for-profit health care corporations. The minimum wage must be at least $15 an hour and a weekly income of $500 provided to the unemployed, the disabled, stay-at-home parents, the elderly, and those unable to work. Anti-union laws, like the Taft-Hartley Act, and trade agreements such as NAFTA, will be abolished. All Americans will be granted a pension in old age. A parent will receive two years of paid maternity leave, as well as shorter work weeks with no loss inlay and benefits. The Patriot Act and Section 1021 of the National Defence Authorization Act, which permits the military to be used to crush domestic unrest, as well as government spying on citizens, will end. Mass incarceration will be dismantled. Global warming will become a national and global emergency. We will divert our energy and resources to saving the planet through public investment in renewable energy and end our reliance on fossil fuels. Public utilities, including railroads, energy companies, [internet providers?], the arms industry, and banks, will be nationalized. Government funding for the arts, education, and public broadcasting will create places where creativity, self-expression, and voice of dissent can be heard and seen. We will terminate our nuclear weapons programs and build a nuclear-free world. We will demilitarize our police, meaning that police will no longe carry weapons when they patrol our streets but instead, as in Great Britain, rely on specialized armed units that have to be authorized case by case to use lethal force. There will be training and rehabilitation programs for the poor and those in our prisons, along with the abolition of the death penalty. We will grant full citizenship to undocumented workers. There will be a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions. Education will be free from day care to university. All student debt will be forgiven. Mental health care, especially for those now caged in our prisons, will be available. Our empire will be dismantled. Our soldiers and marines will come home.

The week and the vulnerable, especially children, will no longer be sacrificed on the altars of profit and the needs of empire. The measure of a successful society will not be the GDP or the highs of the stock market but human rights. Children will never go to be hungry. They will live in safety and security, be nurtured and educated, and grow up to fulfill their potential.
Opportunities for a genuine care of the self: both face-to-face and through computer-mediated communication. Not either-or.

And so for day 2334

Dreams of Vengeance Trap One in Hell

Damn It All
Stephen Greenblatt
review of The Penguin Book of Hell
edited by Scott G. Bruce

One of the prime motives of these texts is rage, rage against people occupying positions of exceptional trust and power who lie and cheat and trample on the most basic values and yet who escape the punishment they so manifestly deserve. History is an unending chronicle of such knaves, and it is a chronicle too of frustration and impotence, certainly among the mass of ordinary people but even among those who feel that they are stakeholders in the system. Hell is the last recourse of political impotence. You console yourself — you manage to stay asleep, as Freud might say — by imagining that the loathsome characters you detest will meet their comeuppance in the afterlife.

But Voltaire and the Enlightenment carried a different message: wake up. Throw out the whole hopelessly impotent fantasy; it is, in any case, the tool not only of the victims but also of the victimizers. We must fight the criminals here and now, in the only world where we can hope to see justice.
Heaven is reading The New York Review of Books


And so for day 2333

Like Elegance in Mathematics

A short accessible piece by Joe Morgan on the question of whether to teach coding to children has appeared in Slate. One of its themes is about cultivating an appreciation for quality.

Of course, getting something working is just the first step of building software. The next step is to make code clear, reusable, and neat. Once, early in my career, I wrote a feature and gave it to a senior developer for review. He took one look at my sloppy spacing, mismatched lines, and erratic naming conventions and just said, "Do it again." It was working. The syntax was valid. It was still wrong. Good coders don't just get something to work. They want it to be good.

That feeling of quality is the hardest thing for many developers to master. Well-designed code feels good to work with, and ugly code will make developers involuntarily cringe. The best developers learn to fuse abstract logic with the sensitivity of an artist. Learning to trust that aesthetic feeling is as much a part of development as any algorithm or coding pattern.
Keen sense of the apt anecdote. Like Zen tales.
My wife and I recently made sugar cookies with our son. [...] Every step—precisely measuring ingredients, gauging mixed dough for smoothness and consistency, placing precision cuts to minimize waste—taught him something about quality. It's hard to teach the difference between merely executing steps, such as following a recipe, and doing something well. It can only be passed on through feel and experience. And every time you involve your kids when you work on something you value, you are teaching them how to do things well. You are preparing them to write code.
Transferable skill. Attitude. Approach.


And so for day 2332

traversée du texte traversé de textes

In the Robarts Library copy of Louis Marin Utopiques : Jeux d'spaces (page 182) marginal note in pencil by a previous reader

Next to this marginal note, this is what is underlined:
Ces espaces blanc de la carte utopique que le discours utopique signifie aveuglément, sont en quelque sorte les lieux de concepts théoriques impensables dans les forme où ils seront ultérieurement pensés. Aussi l'analyse comparative des différences qui animent l'espace utopique dans le text et du texte, conduit-elle à la formulation des conditions historiques de possibilité de la théorie.
I like the snippet that precedes this without being underlined and so emphasized by a sort of inversion: "déplacée ou condensé, sous forme figurative."

Louis Marin
La ville : espace du texte et espace dans le texte
Chapitre 6
Utopiques : Jeux d'espaces
Minuit, 1973

A few pages later (p.184) this footnote by Marin
D'où sans doute également le système d'interdictions et de réglementations concernant les voyages des Utopies dans leur île : voyager c'est rompre les alternances ritualisées de repos et de travail en lieu déterminé, c'est introduire l'imprévu. C'est au fond frayer, dans le temps et dans l'espace, de nouveaux chemins. Là encore, il y a dans le voyage une forme de rupture et de violence à l'égard des totalités, qu'il s'agisse de l'habitude du rite ou de l'espace.
There are in this copy of Marin's book other instances of marginalia referencing lesbian authors: Brossard again with Mauve Desert and Wittig's Les Guillières. Someone was constructing a relay between lesbian imagination and utopics.

(( route via exstasie ))

Marin's notion of travel as a form rupture and as the founding moment of Utopian space certainly is taken up in Brossard's notions of relays and the access to abstraction in Picture Theory which are accessed through the erotic contact of women with women. Three excerpts:
la lumière éclipsant sur le livre
le titre sans l'ombre d'un doute
je traduisais réellement par le nombre
puis venait la transparence les corps portés
comme des relais je disais aussi
bras de femmes l'espoir
Claire Dérive retrace exactement le circuit
des espaces conditionnés nôtres
et les zones libres tout autour
spiralées, ce sont les musiques sans lesquelles
il n'y aurait ni utopie, ni abstraction
ni aucune lèvre à jouir
Ce mot ne pouvait non plus servir à élaborer quelque utopie qui aurait rendu les femmes à leur genre. Je disais, avec dans la bouche un goût de sel, à propos de l'utopie en commençant par le mot femme que l'utopie n'allait pas assurer notre insertion dans la réalité mais qu'un témoignage utopique de notre part pouvait stimuler en nous une qualité d'émotion propice à notre insertion dans l'histoire.

Translated by Barbara Godard

This word could not be used either to elaborate some Utopia that would have restored women to their gender. I said, with a taste of salt in the mouth, on the subject of Utopia beginning with the word woman that Utopia was not going to ensure our insertion into reality but that a Utopian testimony on our part could stimulate in us a quality of emotion favourable for our insertion in history.
Travel is textual.

p. 154

Where one expects "Dérive" one finds "Drive".

Is this a typo that is corrected in the 1989 revised edition text?

Picture theory ; Hologramme
Montréal : Nouvelle Optique, c1982.

Picture theory : théorie/fiction
Nouv. éd. rev., corr. et augm.
Montréal : L'Hexagone, 1989.

Language drives the drift. Text traces the access to the impossibilities of utopia and from there to the possibility of theory.
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.
John Donne, The Extasie.

And so for day 2331

Ever Wonder About Looking Up?

A piece of technohistory from a piece of ephemera...

SURTITLES™ were first developed and introduced worldwide by the Canadian Opera Company in 1983.
From the University of Toronto Faculty of Music program notes to Kurt Weil's Street Scene.

And so for day 2330

Turning "total" to "to all"

Huizinga "Play and War" in Homo Ludens

We can only speak of war as a cultural function so long as it is waged within a sphere whose members regard each other as equals or antagonists with equal rights; in other words its cultural function depends on its play-quality. This condition changes as soon as war is waged outside the sphere of equals, against groups not recognized as human beings and thus deprived of human rights – barbarians, devils, heathens, heretics and "lesser breeds without the law". In such circumstances war loses its play-quality altogether and can only remain within the bounds of civilization in so far as the parties to it accept certain limitations for the sake of their own honour. Until recently the "law of nations" was generally held to constitute such a system of limitation, recognizing as it did the ideal of a community of mankind with rights and claims for all, and expressly separating the state of war – by declaring it – from peace on the one hand and criminal violence on the other. It remained for a theory of "total war" to banish war's cultural function and extinguish the last vestige of the play-element.

Last lines of The Kingdom. Cutting between Saudi Arabia and the USA.
Adam Leavitt: Fleury. Tell me what you whispered to Janet, in the briefing, to get her to stop crying about Fran, you know, before all this, before we even got airborne. What'd you say to her?

Aunt: Tell me, what did your grandfather whisper in your ear before he died?

Adam Leavitt: You remember?

Ronald Fleury: I told her we were gonna kill 'em all.

15-Year-Old Grandson: Don't fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all.
"We" is problematic for the viewer — it's an invitation to identification that can be resisted through memory — the Ronald Fleury character is depicted at least three times interacting with male children trying to explain the unexplainable. In all three instances the scene is expected to elicit the viewer's sympathy. The conflict is individualized and the figure of the good man laminated to that of the good soldier and by that adulterated.

But note that between the tenses, past and future, is the present. Jetzeit. Where and when you remember.

It is in that time of the viewing that the viewer can recall a moment earlier in the film that underscored the recognition of universal mortality as a impetus to action. In a scene in the corridors of power far from the theatre of war.
Attorney General Gideon Young: I'm gonna bury you.

FBI Director James Grace: You know, Westmoreland made all of us officers write our own obituaries during Tet, when we thought The Cong were gonna end it all right there. And, once we clued into the fact that life is finite, the thought of losing it didn't scare us anymore. The end comes no matter what, the only thing that matters is how do you wanna go out, on your feet or on your knees? I bring that lesson to this job. I act, knowing that someday this job will end, no matter what. You should do the same.

Dr. Who
Genesis of the Daleks
(Sarah and Harry pull at the gelatinous thing and finally get it off the Doctor's throat. Harry throws part of it back into the incubation room, the Doctor does the same with the remainder and closes the door. They move a little way down the corridor, and the Doctor holds the two wires. Then he hesitates putting them together to close the circuit and detonate the explosives.)

SARAH: What are you waiting for?

DOCTOR: Just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished. Have I that right?

SARAH: To destroy the Daleks? You can't doubt it.

DOCTOR: Well, I do. You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies just because of their fear of the Daleks.

SARAH: But it isn't like that.

DOCTOR: But the final responsibility is mine, and mine alone. Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?

SARAH: We're talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented. You must destroy them. You must complete your mission for the Time Lords.

DOCTOR: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that's it. The Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek.

SARAH: Then why wait? If it was a disease or some sort of bacteria you were destroying, you wouldn't hesitate.

DOCTOR: But I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent life form, then I become like them. I'd be no better than the Daleks.

SARAH: Think of all the suffering there'll be if you don't do it.

The ambiguity is preserved. He doesn't launch the explosion later on...
(The Doctor comes out of the room and picks up the bare wires again, but before he can put them together, two Daleks come round the corner and fire. He drops the wires and gets out of the way just in time.)


(Inside, the Doctor reaches out from his hiding place for the wires, and the Dalek fires. Then it starts moving forward, and the Doctor runs away. The Dalek trundles over the wires, completing the circuit. The KaBOOM! is heard at the entrance.)

If we know that our "we" is constructed, not given, then what are we to make of the other?

And so for day 2329

Two Takes on Terror or Resisting Being Terrorized

Sara Krulwich

The people with AIDS had very little time left and most were filled with fear. Fear of the disease. Fear of coming out. When someone would actually let me take their picture, it was an act of enormous generosity, and I always felt very grateful. I hope they could feel that, because being a photographer is so secondary to being the kind of person that subjects can trust.
Loss and Bravery: Intimate Snapshots From the First Decade of the AIDS Crisis


Jenny Holzer produces display text from one of her interviewees, Gary Garrels, who reflects:
It was this swelling of people together feeling the loss. Feeling the frustration. The terror.
Reflecting on AIDS in New York City: Jenny Holzer in Collaboration with Surface


And there was the solidarity.

And so for day 2328

Bivalve Lingualism

The sybil of unreadability outrun by f(r)iction...

From Picture Theory by Nicole Brossard

La fiction déjoue alors l'illysybilité, dans le sens où elle insinue toujours quelque chose de plus qui te force à imaginer, à dédoubler. A y revenir.
Translation proceeds by a series of condensations and displacements. There is always a surplus beyond.

Typo = coquille

Coquille: Imprimerie. Substitution d'une lettre à une autre, par erreur, dans la composition d'un texte. (Larousse)

Nicole Brossard
"La Matière harmonieuse"
Typhon Dru
translated by Caroline Bergvall
(Reality Street Editions, 1997)
tout n'est pas dit car je le sais, c'est absolument que j'aime dans les langues, les coquilles roses de sens

all isn't said, I do known, since it's absolutely that I love in tongues coral shells of meaning
That "coquilles roses" is for me a sensual image. See the last section of "La Matière harmonieuse"
à cette heure tardive où nommer est encore fonction de rêve et d'espoir, où la poésie sépare l'aube et les grands jets du jour, et que plusieurs fois des femmes s'en iront invisible et charnelles dans les récits

at this late hour where to name is still a function of the dream of the hope, where poetry splits daybreak from great gushes of daylight, and women will walk a number of times, invisible carnal into the storylines
Carnal. Consider. Cockle is both a bivalve and a flower that comes in pink

There is the children's rhyme.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row
There is the common expression "warm the cockles of the heart." The cockles of the heart are its ventricles, from the Latin "cochleae cordis", from "cochlea" (snail), alluding to their shape.

Let's keep Bergvall's coral which translates as much by sound as by sense: pink cochlear coral.

Let's return to the plurality of "coquilles roses" and lend a carnal ear to the many surpluses.
pink cochlear choral senses
Translating as a shell game of listening.

And so for day 2327

Applied Imagination and Reason

In the Lab with the Poets

Once upon a time poetry and science were one, and its name was Magic. Magic, for our earliest ancestors, was the most effective way of understanding nature and their fellow-men, and of gaining power over them. It was not till some three centuries ago that science finally broke away from magic: the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century withdrew from the 'supernatural' as a field of study; and if science since then has led to other varieties of superstition, we must blame, not the scientists, but the layman, who finds superstition a difficult thing to live without. The course of poetry has been different. If the first great pre-scientific method was imitation, then poetry, in so far as it still rests upon imitation and animism, must seem a very primitive procedure.

Nevertheless, I believe poetry to be a possible way of gaining and imparting knowledge — a son of the same father as science: the brothers may quarrel from time to time, but each in his own field they are working towards compatible ends. To define the field of poetry should make it clear in what sense we may claim that poetry is concerned with knowledge. This I shall try to do. And I shall also suggest that there are remarkable affinities between the method of the scientist and the method of the poet — between the ways their minds work, particularly at one crucial stage of their investigations.


The poet, on the other hand, must not only imagine but reason — that is to say, he must exercise a great deal of consciously directed thought in the selection and rejection of his data: there is technical logic, a poetic reason in in his choice of the words, rhythms and images by which a poem's coherence is achieved.
From C. Day Lewis The Poets Way of Knowledge 1957 [The Henry Sidgwick Memorial Lecture, delivered in Newnham College, Cambridge, 1956]

And so for day 2326


Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories?

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it's also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities - memory, location, and narration - are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It's strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions - but then it's perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

Will Self contrasts (wrongly) picture and story. (See me pointing to Aborigine song lines).

I don't drive but I have been present in a vehicle when satellite navigation was operating. I recall there being voice as well as graphic elements. It is an occasion of mixed media. Pictures are rarely consumed in monosensual environments.

To give direction one must also be able to know how to receive directions.

And so for day 2325

Celebrating the Celebrant

Robert Priest poet. Robert Priest food lover. Robert Priest celebrant.

And I picture this outflow of publications not only with images of beautifully designed books but with the concomitant imagery of beautiful celebratory meals, generously put on and attended by then president (owner) Jack David and, his wife, Sharon. I love celebratory meals and luxuriated in the sense of ceremony that went with them. And now as I follow the cuisine, I begin to salivate with salacious memories of the finest finger food in all of literature laid on time and again, party after party.
Recollection recorded in 40 ECW Press edited by Michael Holmes.

And so for day 2324


Reminder: memory is collective.

Just what is different about face-to-face and online interaction? A posting to the Humanist Discussion List asked: How is this situation no different than what Plato worried about, and how is it different?

I could repeat the synapse view of the relations between computer-mediated to in-person communication: sparks jump the gaps between the social and electronic networks. Instead I want to raise a consideration of a triplet-at-play in our reading tradition stemming from Plato where writing stands in for technology. We have three elements at play: seduction, memory, writing.

Memory mediates between the other two and serves as the ground for adjudication. It is with memory that we judge the fitness of the writing and the goodness of the seduction. The question as to whether writing damages memory is often the starting point of discussions. This is in effect a move that lands us in media res — right smack in the middle of a narrative of decline. Trying to keep the seduction-memory-writing triad in mind as a circuit problematizes any narrative be it of triumphant technology or social decadence.

Seduction seems to be perennially under theorized. I would suggest that there is an art to being seduced as much as there is to seducing (being a good guest as much as being a good host). Plato via Socrates puts a premium on seduction as a means of education, if I recall correctly.

And so for day 2323

Water and Oats: Bilingual Letters

Nicole Brossard
A Tilt in the Wondering
Vallum Chapbook Series No. 15

at this point language shifts as we read
persil brebis and ontology
for I was not refraining myself
about the water needed in beauty
la folle avoine des sens the floating reliability
I love how water/eau is inscribed in beauty. And the reliable repetition in reverse direction when oat/avoine is set floating.

And so for day 2322

Sugar, Sugar, Honey, Honey

A certain song rings in my head when I contemplate the over-consumption of sugar — how it sneaks in everywhere like an earworm. Useful to be reminded:

But while parents can say no, and theoretically so can children, I’m not sure a realistic solution to a flood is just reminding people to swim.


Over our past decade as nutrition guerillas, my wife and I have learned a great deal about ourselves and our community. Most importantly, we now understand that politicians’ short mandates and the food industry’s unwillingness to curtail its own sales, when coupled with the misguided belief that individuals can easily opt out of our pervasive junk food culture, smothers change. Indeed, like with any health-improvement program, change must begin with our own words and actions—by way of thoughtful nutrition and creative, often collaborative, solutions spreading from one home to another and then another and then to our schools, arenas, camps, and communities. We can work directly with the sugar pushers among us to change our sweetly toxic food culture.
"Candy Crushed"
The Walrus
Yoni Freedhoff

And so for day 2321

Hat Trick: Knock, Shush, Soothe

The triple triumph:

Chilli & Coconut: Coconut milk enfolds Thai ingredients in a sweet forgiving embrace. It knocks the sharp edges off lime, shushes foul-mouthed fish sauce and soothes the heat of chilli, whose active component, capsaicin, is soluble in fat but not in water.
Niki Segnit
The Flavour Thesaurus

And so for day 2320

Tummy Trouble?

Jeanne Marie Martin
Hearty Vegetarian Soups and Stews (revised edition, 1991)

No doubt written before the advent of the popularity of Ayuervedic medicine in the West, this seems to trash how I like to make dal (unimaginable without turmeric) ...

Spices: Are usually barks, roots, and strong seeds. Examples are: cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard, black and white pepper, turmeric, cardamon and coriander. Spices are avoided in most of these recipes as they are irritants to the body (especially the stomach) and deter healing. Small amounts are acceptable if used only occasionally.
Ironically followed by a detailed description of the benefits of cayenne pepper.

Pretty cover though.

Do love a scrape of nutmeg in my potato soup which would be sacrilege to Ms. Martin.

And so for day 2319

Pulse and Poetry

I came across a list of ingredients with names in French. Black eyed peas was given as haricots oeil de perdrix which in back translation gives partridge eye beans.

Thanks to Dixon Long in Markets of Provence for the compilation.

Also known as the cowpea or pois des vaches.

And so for day 2318

Facile Dichotomies

Bret Stephens
How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly
"Technology promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard."

Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love — and staying in it — is hard.
I don't think this fair. Nor do I trust the dichotomies that are marshalled here. To tweet well is an art of concision that takes practice. To text with any touch of brilliance requires a knack for combining words that will tickle attention — providing connectors for conversation. Searching is often a race against the algorithm pushing its own response which sacrifices precision — the art of searching depends on learning to bank on the aleatory. Friendship is often nourished by acquaintance — from those superficial encounters I sometimes bring back tidbits to share with those I have a deep and abiding relationship with — like the posting to a discussion list that led to my reading Stephens's opinion piece and my own little rant here. And it has been easy (but not instantaneous).

And so for day 2317

Faites Vos Jeux

Thinking in and through a group...

Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares


Interesting how the releasing hares question harbours another: to hunt or not to hunt. The question morphs into one of chasing.

You cast the problem as one about the maturity of the discipline:

Consider, for example, literary studies, mathematics, the creative arts, engineering and digital humanities. Would it be the case that the more mature (or conservative?) the area of questioning, the more directed to successful application, proof or result and the more vulnerable to fraud the less releasing hares willy-nilly would be regarded as wise?
Susan Ford casts it as the robustness of the community of practice:
When you start a hare you don't know whether it's catchable - but others on the list might. That is the point of the list (and the hare).
Would this discussion benefit from considering the distinction between "game" and "play"?

It just so happens that a fellow reader of Humanist, Dr. Herbert Wender, alerted me (in another context) to the reception of Umberto Eco's forward to the 1973 Italian edition of Homo Ludens. He pointed out a passage from Léon Hanssen "Games of Late Modernity: Discussing Huizinga's Legacy" in Halina Mielicka-Pawłowska (editor) Contemporary Homo Ludens:
Umberto Eco, another important critic of Huizinga's thesis, elaborated his view in a forward to the 1973 Italian edition of Homo Ludens, a very intriguing text that, however, has not received any attention in the Huizinga literature for a long time. According to Eco, Huizinga was unable to distinguish between game and play, because the Dutch language has just one word for both: "een spel spelen," whereas the English say "let's play a game." A game consists of a matrix of combinations and is constituted by a certain amount of rules. Basically, it offers the players a number of options to act, so the eventually one player can win the game. A play, on the other hand, is the role one plays to express the situation at a certain stage of the match. Huizinga showed interest only in the performance, as linguists say, and not in the competence, that is, the game as regulating system, in which a certain matrix of combinations is produced. According to Eco, the crux of the matter is the fact that for Huizinga the element of "play" remained, in the final analysis, an "aesthetic" category. From his aestheticizing perspective, Huizinga was unable to admit that the "decay," the wars and the "crisis," were, in fact, also moments of play in a played culture.
As members of a given community of practice, the sport of hare coursing may not be the (language) game we wish to play. As adherents to a discipline, the release may be the play we wish to make in a (Glass Bead) game.

And thanks to Humanist and its readers, one can allude to both Wittgenstein and Hesse in one paragraph. And digress down the rabbit hole and out the looking glass.

Francois Lachance
Captivated by capture.

And so for day 2316

La Durée vs La Drogue

The Psychopharmacology of Everyday Life
Jamieson Webster

I am indeed a Freudian psychoanalyst, that strange anachronism maligned by psychiatry for not being as scientific as medication supposedly is, by virtue of the control studies that can be done with drug treatments. Modern psychopharmacology goes hand in hand with a psychiatric diagnostic system that has, over time, been redefined to rely on medicating symptoms away rather than looking at the structure of the mind and its complex permutations in order to work with a patient in a deeply engaged way over the long haul. Modern psychiatry is hailed as a scientific success story, and drug companies have profited from the fact that talking therapies are often thought to take too long, their results frequently dismissed as unverifiable. I question, though, whether we should demand verified results when it comes to our mental life: Do you believe someone who promises you happiness in a pill?
Interrogating the discourse of efficiency by an appeal to time and to attention to complexity.

And so for day 2315


From Humanist

32.138 Fish'ing and the words in front of us
Re: 32.135 Fish'ing and the words in front of us


I know you as one to problematize "words". I too want to set aside for the time being the question as to what is a word.

I want to dwell on the plural : "words before us". Two plurals: one of the words; the other of the readers.

Not only are there words but also the relations between the words. And these relations between words would receive different weightings by different readers. I stress this for two reasons. One to underscore that the semiotic material (the words) is read through not only the syntax of one after the other but also through the web of relations. Two to underscore that readings are in flux as readerly attention fluctuates between various sets of relations.

Nothing yet of intention. Intention is merely the privileging of one set of possible relations. A result of weighting.

There have been responses that place the "us" before the "words" and call for supplementary material to explain textual matters. I love a good palindromic structure.

You will have noticed that I substituted "in front of" with "before" in a bid to introduce a temporal element. Time is ever at our back.
The interesting part here is the notion that intentions arise out of weighting possible relations. The other interesting part is a turn towards temporality. Points to the cumulative nature of reading.

And so for day 2314

What Is Remembered: The Long View

Lorna Finlayson

There is no sense in which my great-uncle, who died at the Somme along with hundreds of thousands of others, gave his life for my freedom. He was cannon fodder in a needless imperial war which created fertile conditions for the rise of totalitarian regimes that killed millions, and which millions more would lay down their lives to defeat.
An Exercise in Forgetting
London Review of Books

And so for day 2313

Men's Bodies Explored By Men

The golden ending set in media res ...

Andrew McMillan physical "urination"

you wake to the sound of stream into bowl
and go to hug the naked body
stood with its back to you     and kiss the neck
and taste the whole of the night on there
and smell the morning's pale yellow loss
and take the whole of him in your hand
and feel the water moving through him
and knowing that this is love     the prone flesh
what we expel from the body and what we let inside
prone flesh -- "likely or liable to suffer from, do, or experience something unpleasant or regrettable" rather than "lying flat"

I am prone to like the version that ends as above; the truncation of some thoughts about breath causes a slight pang and yet is welcome     the mind pauses and it is the form that speaks

in the longer version the tautness is gone    
I had forgotten that loving could feel so calming
telling you that your body was beautiful     sighing out
the brittle disappointments from the bones     having no judgement
of what the body may want to be doing     where the breath may fall
imagine all that freight of philosophy is carried by the one word "expel"     and cast is the spell     we know where the breath may fall     neck     kiss

French has the beautifully suggestive verb humer     long vowels     most appropriate to mark morning encounters

And so for day 2312

Epistolary Erasures

We are always in the the land of lost letters...

Dear Kathleen

If I may intrude on the party... and offer some disjointed observations.

I see a telos in creating gateways for conversations. And I see some retrospective stances in a gluttony for connectivity and combatting ephemerality (wanting it all and wanting it all to be forever). Is there a role for forgetting and recovering the forgotten in the cultural practices of intellectual work?

Blogging offered the permalink to assist in citational practice. And so addressed the connecting to. As well, the reader could see who had linked and thus revealing a web of relations. Plus one could search the blog ... and find other connections.

You may remember "web rings" as a collective attempt to deal with the short comings of search engines.

Search engines ... ah, the balancing act between precision and sensitivity ... it would be great to be able to turn off and on the search algorithm's use of one's previously used keywords to have the option between "fresh" searches and "conditioned" searches.

The problem may be twofold: how to tag and link in the vast sea of digital decay; how to trace tagging. Tools to make connections and tools to excavate them.

Almost like documenting graffiti.

Which we know from Pompeii can last.
And the walls themselves may at last crumble...

Always in the ruins, it's a scramble: Gluttony for Connectivity, Combatting Ephemerality, Gateways to Conversations. Which comes first? Which last?

And so for day 2311

Pregnant Pause

Andrew McMillan

the ending...

and so I've learnt to trust only what I have
in this one small room     this square of light
this handful of neck     this noose     this table
this one short step
It's the combination of line breaks, spacing and the unbedecked nouns: neck, noose, table, step that contribute to an almost cinematic set of closeups and sharp cutting. High affect through a poverty of means — no small skill.

And so for day 2310

A Triad of Tricolons

I am a sucker for a tricolon and even more so for a tricolon describing food. The description of the offerings on a market day:

On good days—and most days are good—the Provençal sun transforms ripe peppers to fire, honey to melted gold, and olives into baroque jewels. Eggplants, tomatoes, and cherries glisten, melons send messages to your nose, and everything asks to be tasted.
from "Introduction" by Dixon Long to Markets of Provence

A tricolon in the first sentence then finds its rhetorical reiteration in the three sections of the next sentence — and within one of those sections, a listing of three.

And so for day 2309


Julia Child on diversions and variations on the adage of the watched pot.

Timing: Tripe is far from being a fast-food operation. It needs soaking, and simmering, and the long slow cooking — 5 to 7 hours or more, depending on your recipe — in which it gradually absorbs the flavours of the wine, onions, spices, and any other ingredients you have put with it, and all the while it is developing a marvelously savoury taste. I don't know why people shy away from a 3-hour dough rise, a 5-hour simmer, or a 12-hour oven session. You are not sitting there, eyes glued to the pot. No! You are out at the movies, or you are writing your novel, or you are playing tennis, and you return to your tripe when its time is due. This is, really, the easiest kind of cooking, where, once you've put it all together, it does the rest of the work for you.
From Julia Child's Kitchen

And so for day 2308

Stick Stock Stuck

Tick. Tock. Tuck.

Autocorrect can lead to some nice surprises:

I saw an interesting recipe for soup: take Brussel sprouts and lightly fry with onion and garlic, add turmeric and curry powder. Add stick and let cook. Puree. Seems delicious.
A friend sent this which prompted me to ask if he was suggesting the addition of cinnamon (as in stick of) to the soup. Turns out that "stock" was intended. You could still add cinnamon to the soup. I'm sure it would be tasty.

And so for day 2307

Consciousness Raising Begins in Conversation

Connection. Cognition. Communication.

I do not believe that new stories will find their way into texts if they do not begin in oral exchanges among women in groups hearing and talking to one another. As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narrative of their own. [...] There will be narratives of female lives only when women no longer live their lives isolated in the houses and the stories of men.
Carolyn G. Heilbrun. Writing A Woman's Life

And so for day 2306

Regular Irregularities: Temporal Dislocations

My explanation:

Clever - you caught the date stamp --- it functions more as TARDIS - makes the blog look abandoned (each entry date is more like an accession number) - my goal is to catch up - meanwhile the overall impression is of a neglected ruin in a picturesque landscape - and the odd arbitrary play with time
And in the spirit of the thing, his reply (his suspension marks):
...and the antiquated (yet penetrating) writing style adds to the feeling of dilapidation :)
And the joke spreads...

And so for day 2305

Jeux et Joutes

I have been given gifts. Twice.

A little piece I wrote about Huizinga's Homo Ludens caught the attention of Dr. Herbert Wender who has kindly kept me abreast of the developments in the reception of a forward by Umberto Eco:

Umberto Eco, another important critic of Huizinga's thesis, elaborated his view in a forward to the 1973 Italian edition of Homo Ludens, a very intriguing text that, however, has not received any attention in the Huizinga literature for a long time. According to Eco, Huizinga was unable to distinguish between game and play, because the Dutch language has just one word for both: "een spel spelen," whereas the English say "let's play a game." A game consists of a matrix of combinations and is constituted by a certain amount of rules. Basically, it offers the players a number of options to act, so the eventually one player can win the game. A play, on the other hand, is the role one plays to express the situation at a certain stage of the match. Huizinga showed interest only in the performance, as linguists say, and not in the competence, that is, the game as regulating system, in which a certain matrix of combinations is produced. According to Eco, the crux of the matter is the fact that for Huizinga the element of "play" remained, in the final analysis, an "aesthetic" category. From his aestheticizing perspective, Huizinga was unable to admit that the "decay," the wars and the "crisis," were, in fact, also moments of play in a played culture.
This is from Léon Hanssen "Games of Late Modernity: Discussing Huizinga's Legacy" in Halina Mielicka-Pawłowska (editor) Contemporary Homo Ludens.

And so for day 2304

Extant: There's the Rub

André Alexis in My Vagina has a footnote that runs across the fold to occupy the space of two pages roughly in the centre of the essay. In this extended note, Alexis repeats the claim that in Latin the names for the clitoris were so vulgar that not even Martial or Catullus ever refer to landica. Wikipedia seems to be the crib for Alexis's note. But it is worth remarking that deductions are based on extant sources. What survives may not reveal the whole picture. Consider that the Wikipedia entry reporting the indecency of the term for clitoris references the work of J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary and, for me, alerts us to a possible disjunction between linguistic form and discursive function:

The function of the clitoris (landica) was "well understood". In classical Latin, landica was a highly indecorous obscenity found in graffiti and the Priapea; the clitoris was usually referred to with a metaphor, such as Juvenal's crista ("crest").
We see that frankness does not always frequent frequency. And frequency itself is open to interpretation.

And so for day 2303

Paganizing the Image: The Work of Mourning

The comparison with Christ operates through negation.

Like Christ, Goldin's friends became her superstars, but a great many of them died, and they won't be coming back. The photos she took are not an ersatz resurrection; they are the proof of disappearance. She was not in search of the perfect moment, the final photo that would be something like the return of the son of God, but a picture that would never be more than the one before the last, the one that reminds us that taking that other one is impossible and infinite. [...] The photographic series do not produce a museum version of love. Instead, they are the figures of endless work.
Martine Delvaux. Nan Goldin: The Warrior Medusa.

And so for day 2302

Coach and Coax

In the acknowledgements to Moosewood Restaurant New Classics one finds a remark applicable not only to the whole enterprise of writing cookbooks...

Like anchors, Arnold and Elise Goodman, our agents, coach us and coax us, encourage us and challenge us, laugh with us and eat with us, and never let us down.
... but also to cooking in general.

And so for day 2301

Floppy Failure

Jack Prelutsky
"I Think My Computer Is Crazy"
A Pizza the Size of the Sun

Something inside my computer
is buzzing like billions of bees,
even my mouse is affected,
it seems to be begging for cheese.
I guess I know why my computer
is addled and may not survive—
my brother inserted bologna into the floppy disk drive.
If you caught the image (by James Stevenson) of the antiquated hardware and noticed the slot, the poem's ending comes as a pleasing confirmation of the mischief that caused the chaos.

And so for day 2300

Topsy Turvey

Jack Prelutsky "I'm Drifting Through Negative Space" A Pizza the Size of the Sun

I toss my ephemeral ball
agains an impalpable wall.
It bounces and lands
in my vanishing hands—
recent planetary
inventories show
more leopard-print
blouses than leopards
CAConrad "Eating Both Sides of What's Left" While Standing in Line for Death

And so for day 2299

Retallack on Waldrop on Stein

Judicious situation of a quotation.

What exceeds anything in [Otto] Weininger's philosophically pretentious, utterly congested "deductive morphologies," as well as Stein's own reductive cataloguing, is the way she has begun to conjecture in the act of her writing that, as Keith Waldrop has put it, "the essential of 'each human being' is a rhythm ... [and] to express that rhythm expresses the person. There is actually no need to talk about the subject."
Joan Retallack is quoting from Keith Waldrop's introduction to Useful Knowledge (Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1988) in her introduction to Gertrude Stein: Selections (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

And so for day 2298

Downtime and the Muscle of Attention

Via Kathleen Fitzpatrick Engage. Disengage. Repeat.

Ferris Jabr
"You need more downtime than you think"

Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self. [our emphasis]

Feel free to putter (North America) or potter about (England).

And so for day 2297

Timing and Tactility

Arriving at hint of decadence, the notion is retrospective, restive.

What captured me was the line-end adjective modifying two nouns.

the hour and the civilization late
and so we will smile as if engrossed
the drowsy language between
cortex and the edge of the sea
as if the whole body
was moving up the nape, and secret
from To Every Gaze translated by Jennifer Moxley in Nicole Brossard: Selections

And so for day 2296

Feeding Fashion

Another food poem in addition to the title-bearing poem in the collection by Jack Prelutsky A Pizza the Size of the Sun is the charming two stanza agricultural myth "Spaghetti Seeds" which concludes thusly

I planted them year ago . . .
that farmer is a phony.
I've not got one spaghetti tree—
just fields of macaroni.
A charming drawing by James Stevenson accompanies this little ditty which reminds me of Yankee Doodle and the feather ("Yankee Doodle went to town / A-riding on a pony, / Stuck a feather in his cap / And called it macaroni." It is the intertextual rhyme of pony and phony that cements the relation. Of course the Yankee Doodle macaroni is a statement of fashion not solely a pasta preference. There is an visual echo in the Stevenson illustration. The farmer's rake sticks out behind the figure like a feather in a hat.

james stevenson illustration macaroni
But there is no mistaking the farmer for a fop.

And so for day 2295

Recuperating a Lost World

It's an abecedarian book filled with delightful acrostics. My favourite is the opening one with its anaphoric elements that build to an acknowledgement of the generous amplitude of the small.

As flake is to blizzard, as
C [...]
O [...]
R [...]
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as
   feather is to flight, as light is to star, as
   kindness is to good, so acorn is to wood.
Robert Macfarlane The Lost Words: A Spell Book illustrated by Jackie Morris.

And so for day 2294

Fricatelle Cyprin

Nicole Brossard
Sous la langue Under Tongue

Fricatelle ruisselle essentielle aime-t-elle le long de son corps la morsure, le bruit des vagues, aime-t-elle l'état du monde dans la flambée des chairs pendant que les secondes s'écoulent cyprine, lutine, marines.
In the translation by Susanne de Lobtinière-Harwood
Does she frictional she fluvial she essential does she all along her body love the bite, the sound waves, does she love the state of the world in the blaze of flesh to flesh as seconds flow by silken salty cyprin.
In the 1987 publication, under the dual imprint of L'Essentielle and Gynergy, the translator provides a note to the choice of the word cyprin: "Female sexual secretion. From the French cyprine [fr. Gk Cyprus, birth place of Aphrodite]. We are proposing cyprin for English usage."

There is an earlier translation of this text appearing in Writing 16 (1986) under the title "Sa Main Qui Prenait Appui Sur Un Livre Pendant Que Nos Corps A l'Oblique". There we learn that
Nicole Brossard wrote this text for the erotic festival held at Theatre Expérimental des Femmes (now known as Espace Go) in Montréal the week of March 8, 1986. It was a glittering Saturday evening; 15 writers' texts were read/performed by 15 actresses.
And our trio appears as "silken salty spritely". This last capturing "lutines" marvellously well. I appreciate the alliteration which captures the rhythm supplied in French by the rhymes. And it is alliteration that is carried over into the 1987 version.

In Writing 16 Susanne de Lobtinière-Harwood provides a note on fricatelle (missing in the 1987 version)
fricatelle — from fricarelle, the rubbing together of women's thighs. Thirties slang for lesbian, Nicole explains, via Marie-Jo Bonnet, Un choix sans équivoque, and Nicolas Blondeau, Le Dictionnaire Érotique Latin-Français. Blondeau's dictionary was written in the 17th century but not published until the 19th century.
The rub of language. The spark of neologism.

And so for day 2293

The Ordinary Openness to the Not Ordinary

Mary Pratt
obituary by Leah Sandals
[concluding paragraph]

"I think with my work, even things that are are ordinary are not ordinary," Ms. Pratt said in 2015. "Because I don't really believe that anything is ordinary — I think everything is complex and worthy of conjecture and worthy of a close look." She concluded: "I really believe that you could imagine the secrets of the universe by looking a pile of grapes."
Cluster. Luster.

And so for day 2292

Whimp Out

Dear Diary,

Saw Wainwright's and McIvor's Hadrian. A disappointment. Sabina's aria in Act II was the best part. The ending backed off a possible naming of the gendered nature of Hadrian's love for another man. We were treated to a tedious repetition of "He loved..." (with suspension marks) without the transitive completion of "him."

The opera is confused. Is it a love story? A tale of political intrigue? A search for immortality?

That ending! Apotheosis of the god-emperor, chorus chanting the coming rise of monotheism, the prophecy of to-be-forgotten pagan gods?

Sabina's aria "Why am waiting; what am I waiting for" (I paraphrase from memory) foreshadows the audience waiting for the recognition at the end of a man loving a man. Waiting for the word.

He was loved. But was he loved as a man? No amount of same-sex scene pantomime can substitute for the artistic exploration of the theme of reciprocation. Let alone the saying - the enunciation - that marks a coming to knowledge and action. Who did he love? Who loved him? Who had the courage to speak? Of what? To whom?

And so for day 2291

The Cut and the Cooked

Jane Byers
Steeling Effects

The extended comparison at the end of this poem stretches out a food metaphor into a celebration of the plain.

Mashed potatoes and turnip are nutrient poor from the endless boil
but love doesn't leach.
I buy starfruit when I can.
Thin cross-sections make a constellation
atop my roasted salad of parsnips and beets.
They still dazzle me,
though I've learned it's roots that sustain.
A bit of dazzle is not uncalled for. The metaphorical splendid on its base of the literal.

And so for day 2290

All Around Us

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

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


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


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

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

And so for day 2289

Dance Craze Blaze

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

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

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

And so for day 2288

The Almost Forgotten Fairy

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

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

And so for day 2287

Speak of the Hand

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

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

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

And so for day 2286

Invasion of the Peacemakers

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

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

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

And so for day 2285

Post Precariat

A World Without Work from The Atlantic

Derek Thompson draws on Benjamin Hunnicutt.

The post-work proponents acknowledge that, even in the best post-work scenarios, pride and jealousy will persevere, because reputation will always be scarce, even in an economy of abundance. But with the right government provisions, they believe, the end of wage labor will allow for a golden age of well-being. [Benjamin] Hunnicutt said he thinks colleges could reemerge as cultural centers rather than job-prep institutions. The word school, he pointed out, comes from skholē, the Greek word for “leisure.” “We used to teach people to be free,” he said. “Now we teach them to work.”
Thompson goes on to note that unemployed people end up spending majority of time watching television. He makes no mention about any links between disposable income and leisure; instead he returns us to work as the source of meaning: "The unemployed theoretically have the most time to socialize, and yet studies have shown that they feel the most social isolation; it is surprisingly hard to replace the camaraderie of the water cooler." Nice sentiment but further along in the article, Thompson concedes "Less passive and more nourishing forms of mass leisure could develop. Arguably, they already are developing. The Internet, social media, and gaming offer entertainments that are as easy to slip into as is watching TV, but all are more purposeful and often less isolating. " But he raises an objection "[I]t’s hard to imagine that leisure could ever entirely fill the vacuum of accomplishment left by the demise of labor. Most people do need to achieve things through, yes, work to feel a lasting sense of purpose."

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

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

And so for day 2284

undotting the i-candy

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

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

And so for day 2283


These Waves

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

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

And so for day 2282

Portrait of a Generous Genius

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

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

And so for day 2281

Body as Technology

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

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

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

And so for day 2280

Border Patterns

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

"Four Orphic Poems & A Song"





are temporary boundaries', the moving countries

where nothing

is seen in isolation.

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

Witness, Four Orphic Poems appeared in Poetry July 1964; the lines that interest us are broken by a page break


[page break]

are temporary boundaries', the moving countries

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

And so for day 2279

Solar Path Tree Ring

Ronald Johnson
The Shrubberies

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

And we blink like a tree forms rings.

And so for day 2278

Mindful Mindworks

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

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

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

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

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

And so for day 2277

You Them Him

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

A lyrical moment reined in by reality check...

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

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

A rupture in time and community.

And so for day 2276

Gravity Levity

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

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

only the similitude between the apple

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

And so for day 2275





And so for day 2274

Skateboard Trail

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost

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

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

And so for day 2273

The Specifics of Universal Grammar

You gotta love the cheek.

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

A take on the power of naming.

And so for day 2272