The Agon of Call and Response

I remember it from the movie as a devastating truth-telling moment but on the page it seems to fall flat. Harold's speech to Michael in The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley:

You are a sad and pathetic man. You're a homosexual and you don't want to be. But there is nothing you can do to change it. Not all your prayers to your God, not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you've got left to live. You may very well one day be able to know a heterosexual life if you want it desperately enough — if you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate — but you will always be homosexual as well. Always. Michael. Always. Until the day you die.
What sets this up is the game frame.

     [Calmly, coldly, clinically]

Now it is my turn. And ready or not, Michael, here goes.

     [A beat]

You are a sad and pathetic man. You're a homosexual and you don't want to be. But there is nothing you can do to change it. Not all your prayers to your God, not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you've got left to live. You may very well one day be able to know a heterosexual life if you want it desperately enough — if you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate — but you will always be homosexual as well. Always. Michael. Always. Until the day you die.
Ready or not - sounds like the declaration from a children's game. But as set up earlier the stakes are high. There was an exchange of warnings between Michael and Harold in which Harold declares

Are you now? Are you warning me? Me? I'm Harold. I'm the one person you don't warn, Michael. Because you and I are a match. And we tread very softly with each other because we both play each other's game too well. And I play it very well. You play it very well too. But you know what, I'm the only one that's better at it than you are. I can beat you at it. So don't push me. I'm warning you.
Well worth noting that Michael's reaction is to laugh. The querying of laughter is part of Harold's entrance. Michael asks "What's so fucking funny?" and Harold replies "Life. Life is a goddam laff-riot. You remember life." The laughter circulates across characters and across the play's divide of acts (Harold is laughing at the end of Act 1 and is still laughing at the beginning of Act 2 — a peculiar temporal hiatus the film cannot replicate).

Already combative from the entrance... Harold's reply to Michael's accusation of being late and being stoned is a model of self-acceptance (the power of his game playing).
What I am, Michael, is a thirty-two-year-old, ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy — and if it takes me a while to pull myself together and if I smoke a little grass before I can get up the nerve to show this face to the world, it's nobody's goddam business but my own.

     [Instant switch to chatty tone]

And how are you this evening?
That later salvo seems a little less flat given the set up. The power of self-deprecation carries through.

And so for day 2442

Skipping and Slinging

Neil Gaiman
Forward to Shaun Tan The Singing Bones

There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water or to use to strike an enemy.
Not so far off as these are Grimm offerings....

And so for day 2441

Decidedly Dedicated

for the family,
related and unrelated,
living and dead
Joyce Nelson. Dedication to Battlefronts (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1977).

And so for day 2440

Tension and the Cinematic Checklist

1935 Movie Tale of Two Cities

Just prior to the beginning of the dramatic action of the film, a written "Bibliography" is presented that cites the following books: The French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle, Journal of the Temple by M. Clery, The Memoirs of Mlle. des Echerolles and The Memoirs of M. Nicholas.

Could this last piece be the following?

Monsieur Nicolas, ou Le Cœur humain dévoilé, est un ouvrage autobiographique écrit par Nicolas Edme Restif de La Bretonne et paru en 1796-1797.

There is a 1930 English edition:

Monsieur Nicolas, or, The human heart unveiled translated by R Crowdy Mathers with an introduction by Havelock Ellis (London : John Rodker, 1930).

Havelock Ellis provides often amusing insight into the contradictions of the author an this century.

[on setting regulations for brothels] To the end Restif cherished his moral enthusiasm in this cause. His friend Bonneville once reproached him with describing too minutely the pleasures of prostitution. Restif defended himself. "Yes," he said with heat, "I am the friend and protector of these houses treated with such contempt. I would far rather go to see a pretty courtesan than make a baby with the wife of my friend or my neighbour." I do not dispute Restif's honesty, but the method he so highly approved had never saved him from making love copiously in the houses of friends and neighbours, and he seems to have exaggerated the number of babies he thus made.


Since men possess both moral impulses and immoral impulses it may well be that it is precisely this harmonious combination of the two which gives the eighteenth century in one of its numerous aspects, — "that atrocious eighteenth century," as Hugel used to call it, — the high rank it takes as a manifestation of the human spirit. Restif, whose devotion to the moral happiness of mankind we cannot doubt, and to whose own fundamental goodness all who knew him testify, yet lived and moved and had his whole being from first to last in an atmosphere which was, pungently and luridly, immoral. With his morbidly sensitive and impetuous temperament he was able to carry this seemingly incompatible combination to so high a point of extravagance that even the eighteenth century itself was sometimes shocked.
Intrigued to view the film again with this tension in mind ...

And so for day 2439


Natalie Zemon Davis. A Life of Learning Charles Homer Haskins Lecture for 1997. (American Council of Learned Societies, ACLS Occasional Paper No. 39)

When it came time to pack up my 100s of 3 x 5 cards, I realized that I had a powerful memory association with the Lyon archives, one that I would have many times again whenever I worked in a local archival setting. The room itself became closely identified with the traces of the past I was examining: the smell of its old wood, the shape of its windows, the sounds from the cobblestone streets or running stream. The room was a threshold in which I would meet papers that had once been handled and written on by the people of the past. The room was like Alice's mirror, the Narnia wardrobe, or — to give the Huron metaphor — the mysterious hole under the roots of a tree through which one falls for a time into another world.
For more on the Huron metaphor, see her article "Iroquois women, European women" in American encounters : natives and newcomers from European contact to Indian removal, 1500-1850 edited by Peter C. Mancall, James H. Merrell (New York : Routledge, 2007) or Women, 'race,' and writing in the early modern period edited by Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (London ; New York : Routledge, 1994)
Models for abrupt change were also available. One was metamorphosis, the sudden and repeated change from bear to man to bear. [...] A second model was the sudden fall to a totally different world. The first fall was at creation, when the pregnant woman Aataentisic plunged from the sky through the hole under the roots of a great tree (according to one version recounted to the Jesuit Brébeuf), landed on the back of a great turtle in the waters of this world, and after dry land had been created, gave birth to the deity Yoscaha and his twin brother. Falls through holes, especially holes under trees, are the birth canals to experiences in alternative worlds in many an Indian narrative.*
*Brébeuf, JR [Jesuit Relations] 19:126-9. Erodes and Ortiz discuss the "fall through a hole" as a motif in American Indian Myths and Legends 75, and there are several examples analysed in Lévi-Strauss Histoire de lynx.
And so we plunge ...

And so for day 2438

Ever Ready To Converse

In the Penguin Books Great Ideas series, Seneca On the Shortness of Life translated by C.D.N. Costa.

You should rather suppose that those are involved in worthwhile duties who wish to have daily as their closest friends Zeno, Pythagoras, Democritus and all the other high priests of liberal studies, and Aristotle and Theophrastus. None of these will be too busy to see you, none of these will not send his visitor away happier or more devoted to himself, none of these will allow anyone to depart empty-handed. They are at home to all mortals by night and by day.
Cover of Penguin Seneca
The cover design supplies an additional message: Life is Long If You Know How to Use It.

And so for day 2437

Ever Green In the Archive

From ad copy from the London Review of Books

Spring is here, but the LRB, like cypress, pine, fir, cedar, spruce, hemlock, juniper, eucalyptus and magnolia trees, is evergreen. Which is to say that pieces and issues from a month, or a year, or a decade ago can be as riveting and unmissable as last week’s.
I like the enumeration that leads to the comparison. It reminds me of Chaucer and the trees listed in The Parliament of Fowls
The byldere ok, and ek the hardy asshe;
The piler elm, the cofre unto carayne;
The boxtre pipere, holm to whippes lashe;
The saylynge fyr; the cipresse, deth to playne;
The shetere ew; the asp for shaftes pleyne;
The olyve of pes, and eke the dronke vyne;
The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.
From The Riverside Chaucer

In our climate magnolia shed their leaves (here in Toronto).

And so for day 2436


Tugging at my reading of this aphorism is the title of a book of interviews with Michel Foucault: Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977

Reading is knowledge, but writing is power.

Dave Eggers

From an interview in The Guardian
Power comes before knowledge. Reading is a form of power. Parsing. Decisions about how to traverse the textual space. If reading is on the side of acquisition and writing, distribution, wherefore that "but"? Who reads without writing?

Learning to read and learning to handle a pencil (punch a screen) are contemporaneous. Pointing is their foundation. Pointing and vocalization lead to the mutual imbrications of power and knowledge.

And so for day 2435

fragile tissue of time

Parenthesis 31
The Journal of The Fine Press Book Association
"First Principles, Second Thoughts and Final Answers"
Robert Bringhurst

[p. 35]

Writing encyclopedia articles pays very poorly when it pays at all. Yet the challenge posed by the genre — stating all the essentials of a subject with the greatest possible clarity in the shortest possible space — has tempted many writers. So has the intangible reward: the short-lived, giddy illusion that one has attained the status of Recognized Authority. These considerations or others tempted Stanley Morison when the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannnica asked him to contribute to their 14th edition, published in 1929. He was assigned three subjects: Calligraphy, Printing Type, and Typography.

Morison viewed the undertaking through a narrow lens. His was the only discussion of calligraphy in the entire encyclopedia, yet he neglected even to mention that calligraphy existed in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish, or Persian. In the other two articles, he also gave no hint that books had been handsomely printed from moveable type in China and Korea before Gutenberg.


[The Typography article ...]
It began with the finest Morisonism of all and continued with an admission that there was not just one right answer after all:
The printer must never distract, even with beauty, the reader from his text. In the printing of books there is less room for individuality of style than in the typography of propaganda. The laws of typography in books intended for general circulation are based upon (a) the essential nature of alphabetical writing; (b) the force of tradition. But strict as the conventions are, there is not, and never can be, a rigid character to typography applicable to all books printed in Roman types. The strength of tradition expresses itself in the details of book arrangement and these vary widely. Certain laws of linear composition are, however, obeyed by all printers who use the Roman letter.

[p. 39]

Van Krimpen's own form of eloquence lay just next door to writing: in calligraphy and in the designing of type and books. Like Morison, he was searching for the One Right Answer, the one that would nail history down and show the rest of us the error of our ways — but van Krimpen's answers were visual rather than verbal [...] His type is of lasting value, like Morison's prose, because of that search. What he found was never exactly what he was looking for. It was never the One Right Answer, but it was very often one of the many right answers. Again and again he captured something timeless, weaving both it and himself into the fragile tissue of time.
Interesting how a discourse on a specialized context of craft turns to universal considerations of pursuit and making in the ethical milieu of a commitment to value.

And so for day 2434

Look Alike

No moustache in one. No glasses in the other. Still they look alike.

harry duncan northrop frye
Illustration of Harry Duncan by Jack McMaster — Parenthesis 31 Photograph of Northrop Frye by Fred Phipps — Toronto Star, July 13, 2012

And so for day 2433

Michael Anthony on Quince

V is for Vegetable: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks- from Artichokes to Zucchini

Each section of this alphabetically arranged book begins with a quotation and illustration.

"Quince, in my book, is an honorary vegetable."
— Michael Anthony, V is for Vegetables
I love the self referential character of this quotation.

michael anthony on quince

And so for day 2432

We Marched for Love and Pride

For a Friend... "Somewhere else, someone else is crying too / Another man has lost a friend, I bet he feels the way I do"

The Communards - For A Friend (Official Video)
Songwriters: James Somerville / Richard Coles

And all the dreams we had, I will carry on
As I watch the sun go down, watching the world fade away
All the memories of you come rushing back to me
As I watch the sun go down, watching the world fade away
All I want to do is kiss you once goodbye, goodbye
As I watch the sun go down, watching the world fade away
All the memories of you come rushing back to me
As I watch the sun go down, a darkness comes to me
All I want to do is kiss you once goodbye
In memory of Mark Ashton

Jamie Doward writing in The Guardian about the film Pride speculates:
Pride shows how disparate groups of gay and lesbian people were inspired by Ashton, a gay man from Portrush in County Antrim, who was an active member of the Young Communist League, a fact overlooked in the film, apparently so as not to alienate American audiences.
As I watch the sun go down...


And so for day 2431

Two Takes on Two Cultures

Same material revisited at intervals -- the C.P. Snow 1959 Rede lecture (The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution) and the F.R. Leavis 1962 Richmond lecture (The Two Cultures?).

Two concluding paragraphs

From a Parliamentarian on the 40th anniversary -- Dr Ian Gibson -- all about seeking consensus

Agreements, even temporary, preliminary ones, will only be achieved if contributors have to play according to rules that reach beyond the different forms of knowledge. Just like MPs, everyone taking part in a public debate should be forced to declare any interests they might have that could influence their judgement. What we need to solve our dilemmas are not the so-called objective technicians CP Snow dreamt of, but improved rules of public discourse.
From a literary critic on the 50th anniversary -- Stefan Collini -- all about debunking
From one point of view, Leavis might not seem an obvious recruit to any putative "slow criticism" movement. As he himself wryly notes, one Italian periodical described him as "puritano frenetico", and the intense, combative address of his printed voice does not at first conjure up the process by which the patient accretion of alternative descriptions, almost geological in the pace of its operation, modifies existing sensibilities. Anger operates at a faster tempo, and the Richmond lecture is a deeply angry performance. But closer familiarity with his much-remarked upon syntax suggests that it should be seen as, precisely, a straining against the limits of sequential exposition in the interests of recognising the simultaneity and inter-relatedness of considerations that are flattened by others into blandly self-contained propositions, which in turn congeal into cliche. To be disturbed into an awareness (however uneasy or resistant) of this process is to start to register the power of his critical voice. In these terms, perhaps Leavis's lecture, whatever its flaws, may still be thought to have a claim on our attention, even if opinion remains divided over whether it should be considered a minor classic of cultural criticism.
Public discourse needs improving -- is that a cliche?

And so for day 2430


The stone speaks: a reverse Pygmalion effect since the sculptor is being sculpted.

Creative Relationship

When her words
like the blows
from a sculptor's hammer

trying to fashion
her inspiration
of me

I turn to stone
George Swede
Tell Tale Feathers

And so for day 2429

Unplucked by the Copy Editor

The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr sports a close up of the stamens of a daylily on its cover and a fragment from Dickinson (1058) "Bloom — is Result" (in Emily's hand?)

It is up close that some differences are noticed.

I was delighted in my reading to come across a paragraph (bloom) almost duplicated on the same page (p. 78).
With the rise of interest in highly specialized flower gardens of sophisticated cultivars, oil portraits of women both before and long after the Civil War depicted them in the presence of luxurious blooms.


With the rise of interest in highly specialized flower gardens of elegant cultivars, oil portraits of women immediately before and after the Civil War envisioned them in the presence of luxurious blooms.
This is a record of the paragraph-blooms in situ.

Dickinson (1058) ends with a dash —
To be a Flower, is profound
Responsibility —
One sports "sophisticated" where the other displays "elegant". And can one detect a pruning hand where "long after" is reprised as simply "after"? Where "depicting" becomes "envisioning" here gardening/writing takes on the domain of music and variations on a theme.

And so for day 2428

After Bashō

I believe this pond poem is after Bashō: George Swede from Tell Tale Feathers.

A scan.

A transcription.
         Summer Afternoon

The bullfrog
                     the green pond
                          one eye

               goes back to sleep 
A machine-readable string.
Summer Afternoon The bullfrog leaps the green pond opens one eye and goes back to sleep
Keeping on rippling...

And so for day 2427

Building Taste

From a note to my niece who is now employed in the food industry.

I thought of you the other day and how your tastes have evolved. A friend's report of their expanding set of grandchildren reminded me of my own father's delight in his grandchildren. One of his favourite exercises of grandfatherly prerogative was introducing young palates to new foodstuffs (much to the consternation of my mother when very spicy items were involved — she feared for delicate stomachs). He helped build many happy memories of the first steps, first words and those first reactions to novel tastes. (I think I owe him my fondness for salted black liquorice.)

Wishing you many more food adventures.
I used to loathe cooked celery. Now I find its grassy note welcome. I also now like my coffee two ways: black and unsweetened or Vietnamese candy-style with sweetened condensed milk. I also with age tolerate bitter better even seek it out in endive. I have fallen heavily for the umami flavour of uni (sea urchin). And I remember to smell before and during tasting.

And so for day 2426

In Lights

Canadian Opera Company brochure: front and back.

a voice can break your heart or it can show you the answer
or it can show you the answer a voice can break your heart
Gertrude Stein's last words are reputed to be “What is the answer?… In that case … what is the question?”
What Is Remembered (1963) by Alice B. Toklas

And so for day 2425

Signatures, Covers, Samples

Style brought to you by the hand. By the ear. By the eye. By the mind.

George Swede's signature is tight and compact like his talent for short verse forms such as haiku and tanka. Jan Zwicky's signature is aswish with an almost Renaissance flourish and signifies nicely her musicality.

george swede signature jan zwicky signature
george swede Tell Tale Feathers jan zwicky Art of Fugue

I am unwinding
like a ball
of red wool
between the paws
of a black cat

from all angles
this way
and that
I am leaving behind
a thin trail
of yarn
full of frays
and tangles

from Tell Tale Feathers - Fiddlehead Poetry Books No. 229, 1978
A room, a table, and four chairs.
The chairs are made of wood,
the floor is wood,
the walls are bare. But windowed.
West light, east light. And a scent
like cedar in the air. Here, the self
will sit down with the self.
Now it will say
what it has to say. It looks
into its own eyes. Listens.

from Art of Fugue - Vallum Chapbook Series No. 6, 2009.

And so for day 2424

Strands and Tiles

Interlacing two strands the picture is explained by two lines below.

elana schlenker poster

Great things are done by a series
of small things brought together.
Created during a residency at the Facebook Analog Research Lab by Elena Schlenker
and found on the cover of a colouring book wherein one finds among the offerings a repeating pattern of strawberries.

elana schlenker strawberries

And so for day 2423


The poem's title "天天" is evidently reduplicative. This much the English reader who knows no Chinese can observe. The poet plays with this — the explanation is proceed by the image of drawing a lake to save a jumping girl — the drawn lake is built of words and so is she...


bending to drink
this street like a river.
In Chinese, 天 means both

heaven & sky.
From a distance, a body
falling is nearing


Past Lives, Future Bodies
K Ming Chang

And so for day 2422

Incandescent Feline

Robert Graves in the introductory note to his On English Poetry Being an Irregular Approach to the Psychology of This art, from Evidence Mainly Subjective concludes with the observation "that when putting cat among pigeons it is always advisable to make it as large a cat as possible."

Rabih Alameddine writing in Harper's.

We invade your countries, destroy your economies, demolish your infrastructures, murder hundreds of thousands of your citizens, and a decade or so later we write beautifully restrained novels about how killing you made us cry.
No escaping the claws of that pronoun "we".

And so for day 2421


Tanka First Person memento mori

Facial massage—
I feel my skin
stretch over holes
that will soon
define me
George Swede from First Light, First Shadows

Soon but not yet.

And so for day 2420

Beginner's Mind


Particularly for the novice practitioner, good data modelling is something to be done iteratively, interrogating and refining the model through a dialogue with both the source material and the operational context of tools.
Julia Flanders and Fotis Jannidis "Data modeling in a digital humanities context: an introduction" in The Shape of Data in Digital Humanities: Modelling Texts and Text-Based Resources

And so for day 2419



the definite connection that exists
between ravishing meaning from her and
magic boxes

Nicole Brossard Daydream Mechanics translated by Larry Shouldice
Northrop Frye in the preface to the Well-Tempered Critic (1963) writes that the lectures "are intended to fit inside one another, like the boxes of Silenus" [9]. Frye references** Silenus in a review of Robert Graves's collected poetry (Hudson Review vol. 9 no. 2 Summer 1956) but the Graves poem "Warning to Children" that Frye points towards although constructed in a most marvellous mise en abyme does not mention Sileni of any sort nor play on the inside-outside associations of Sileni boxes. Frye's reading characterizes the link between imbrication and the Sileni as a theme. The association of Sileni boxes and nesting appears throughout Frye's career. It is also found in one of the notebooks from the early 1970s where Frye remarks "Also Egyptian is the boxes-of-Silenus mummy cases, of one inside another: Rabelais."*

But there is no mention of nesting in Rabelais (Preface to Gargantua). Nor in Erasmus. Nor in Plato. My quandary: where does Frye get the image of nesting boxes? What can account for the leap from a multiplicity of boxes to nesting?

I have also located another reference to nesting Sileni: in Charles L. Griswold, Jr. Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment (1999) describing his own work with the figure of nesting Sileni: "my discussion here will resemble a series of Sileni, one nested inside the next."

Andrew Ford in "Alcibiades's Eikon of Socrates and the Platonic Text: Symp. 215a-222d" in Plato and the Power of Images (2017) has a pointed aside: "There is no archeological evidence for anything like the nested 'Russian Dolls' we may picture to ourselves."

Frye's figure of the nested Sileni is of course an instance of a model of text at work in generating readings. One that remains for me opaque: the origins of the connection between Sileni boxes and nesting remain a mystery.
* The “Third Book” Notebooks of Northrop Frye (Collected Works 9) The "third book" notebooks of Northrop Frye, 1964-1972 : the critical comedy edited by Michael Dolzani.

** Frye writes in his review of Graves "We notice that the central theme of a relatively early poem, 'Warning to Children,' is that of the boxes of Silenus, the image with which Rabelais begins."
A theory:

Frye repeatedly references Rabelais. Although one doesn't find direct reference to nesting Sileni boxes, one does encounter in the Prologue to Gargantua the mention of onion, the peel to be exact, and from this emblematic vegetable might we assume the notion arose of layer upon layer upon layer?
[...] Just such another thing was Socrates. For to have eyed his outside, and esteemed of him by his exterior appearance, you would not have given the peel of an onion for him, so deformed he was in body, and ridiculous in his gesture. He had a sharp pointed nose, with the look of a bull, and countenance of a fool: he was in his carriage simple, boorish in his apparel, in fortune poor, unhappy in his wives, unfit for all offices in the commonwealth, always laughing, tippling, and merrily carousing to everyone, with continual gibes and jeers, the better by those means to conceal his divine knowledge. Now, opening this box you would have found within it a heavenly and inestimable drug, a more than human understanding, an admirable virtue, matchless learning, invincible courage, unimitable sobriety, certain contentment of mind, perfect assurance, and an incredible misregard of all that for which men commonly do so much watch, run, sail, fight, travel, toil and turmoil themselves.

François Rabelais translated by Thomas Urquart (our emphasis)
The proximate image of the onion lodged in memory and the subsequent application to Graves's poem cemented the association that we find decades later in link between Egyptian sarcophagi and Sileni boxes. Further comment: "peel" gives rise to the notion of layer. The French "copeau d'oignon" is more like a sliver or shaving and less connected to the image of a layer as to a piece.

"Warning to Children"
Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness,
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree,
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
Red and green, enclosed by tawny
Yellow nets, enclosed by white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where the same brown paper parcel—
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head,
Finds himself enclosed by dappled
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
And white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
he lives — he then unties the string.
Notable not only for its nesting but also for the imperceptible (to the too quick reader) variations — those colours change positions... waiting for children like magic boxes.

And so for day 2418

On Stock Responses

Northrop Frye
The Well-Tempered Critic

Again, stock response cannot read a poem, but can only react to the content of a poem, which it judges as inspiring or boring or shocking according to its moral anxieties. Stock response is apt to hanker after some form of censorship, for it cannot understand that works of literature can only be good or bad in their own categories, and that no subject-matter or vocabulary is inherently bad.
And would you judge this book by its cover?

cover well-tempered critic
Balanced? N'est-ce pas?

And so for day 2417

More Intellectual Virtues

Black Trillium
Marion Zimmer Bradely, Julian May, Andre Norton

The quest both individual and collective is to achieve balance. It is a psychological quest. The key is knowledge: its possession and disposition.

"And when you have this knowledge, what do you do with it?"

"What do you mean?" Haramis asked.

"Would you use knowledge to hurt and destroy, to manipulate and bend others to your will?"

"Of course not!" Haramis replied indignantly. "That's wrong. People are supposed to be free to make their own choices, not used as puppets for the amusement of those stronger or more intelligent than they are. But why should I have to do anything with knowledge? Why can't I simply study and learn and rejoice in the knowledge and vision I achieve? Why should I have to use it?"

"Because you are what you are, and it shows. I can see it, Orogastus can see it, and any other with a knowledge of magic can see it." The Archimage's voice grew intense. "Haramis, you understand words. Most people never realize that words are important, that they matter, that to say a thing is to give it at least a shadow existence—and to name truly is to give it life. You hear, you listen, and you remember, and that is a rare gift. Without it, you would never understand magic, most of it would literally be inconceivable to you. Kadiya possesses great ardor and determination, and Anigel has compassion and a loving heart, but these gifts while they are great in their own right, are not what is required for the full use of magic. [...]
The image of interlocking strengths and weaknesses reminds me of Veronica Roth's factions.

And so for day 2416

Mould, Canalize, Direct

Aldous Huxley
Words and Their Meanings
(Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press, 1940)

Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

From the book flap on the dustcover:

This is the first publication of a new work by Aldous Huxley in a field in which he has long been interested. It is a consideration of the power of words "to mould men's thinking, to canalize their feeling, to direct their willing and acting. Conduct and character are largely determined by the nature of the words we currently use to discuss ourselves and the world around us."
From inside, on continuity and the presence of records:
There may be geniuses among the gorillas; but since gorillas have no conceptual language, the thoughts and achievements of these geniuses cannot be recorded and so are lost to simian posterity.
From further inside, an ascesis:
To learn to use words correctly is to learn, among other things, the art of foregoing immediate excitements and immediate personal triumphs. Much self control and great disinterestedness are needed by those who would realize the ideal of never misusing language.
I could remain silent and listen to Bach. I should.

And so for day 2415


Cyrus Cassells
The Crossed-Out Swastika

"Riders on the Back of Silence"
end of section VI "Trains"
[the stationmaster is remembered]

storefronts of Kristallnacht
How it would've angered him to see

that his beloved trains
we're used to betray us.
"Sabine Who Was Hidden in the Mountains"
and learners whose hair

would never thin or silver
"The Fit"
Section IV "Youth"
How two boys ignite,
fit together,

is a burst of summer fireworks,
a radiant cartwheel —
Note to "The Fit" points to the memoirs of Pierre Seel and of Gad Beck

Moi, Pierre Seel, déporté homosexuel

An underground life : memoirs of a gay Jew in Nazi Berlin

And so for day 2414

Follow the Brush, Guide the Reading of Numberous

Thomas J. Harper
Afterward to Jun'ichirō Tanizaki In Praise of Shadows

One of the oldest and most deeply ingrained of Japanese attitudes to literary style holds that too obvious a structure is contrivance, that too orderly an exposition falsifies the ruminations of the heart, that the truest representation of the searching mind is just to "follow the brush". Indeed it would not be far wrong to say that the narrative technique we call "stream of consciousness" has an ancient history in Japanese letters. It is not that Japanese writers have been ignorant of the powers of concision and articulation. Rather they have felt that certain subjects — the vicissitudes of the emotions, the fleeting perceptions of the mind — are best couched in a style that conveys something of the uncertainty of the mental process and not just its neatly packaged conclusions.
* * *
the gesture she makes — this is her way of attempting despite the sovereign prohibitions to find again a place to reflect open space favourable for calligraphy with marvellous drawings with numberous incursions (infractions) accomplished as such with arrogance then following the course of what is written       fount of apprenticeship to pleasure and density — process of composition (vertically the pieces of chalk on the black board!) which she justifies field of action for new forms in the realm of consciousness
Nicole Brossard
Translated by Larry Shouldice
"Field of Action for New Forms, June 1971"
in Daydream Mechanics

Numberous - so many that it is numbing

And so for day 2413

Externalities, More Than

In the series The FUTURE of WORK

"Dollars in the Margins"

[intro blurb - a quotation from the article]

The $15 Minimum Wage Doesn’t Just Improve Lives. It Saves Them. A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect.

And so for day 2412

Fantastic Cells

Library catalogue subject headings for Fantastic Voyage:

Brain--Diseases--Diagnosis--United States--Drama.
Medicine--Specialties and specialists--United States--Drama.
Scientists--United States--Drama.
I believe and others have noted that Dr. Who "The Invisible Enemy" is indebted to the Fantastic Voyage.

And so for day 2411

Drawing the Line

Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Heads of the Colored People
"A Conversation about Bread"

Junior was always trying out white folks stuff and brining it to school for us to try. [...]

When he brought potato bread to school for lunch, we were all like, what's up with the yellow bread? For it was surely some white folks stuff and the dumbest thing we'd ever heard of until we tasted it. Once that yellow soft hit our mouths, though, it was like Apple Jacks; it didn't even have to taste like apple, or potato.

Croissants, too, not those pop-can crescent rolls our mamas and the lunch ladies tried to feed us. Junior had real croissants—the kind where you aren't supposed to pronounce the "r"—from a little bakery at the edge of the Fondren District. We ate the flaky edges of those croissants like they were Pop Rocks, just doing all their work in our mouths.

But most of us drew the line at brioche.
There follows a whole story devoted to ethnography and perspective and focalization and story telling and drawing the line.

The emboîtement of narrative elements is a feature of many of the stories in Heads of the Colored People and it is fitting that the endpapers pick up this notion in their design.

Head outline or profile cascading and seeded throughout the page space. Telling and told.

And so for day 2410


Scott Ferguson
Declarations of Dependence: Money, Aesthetics, and the Politics of Care

Critical theory must, therefore, loosen its historical attachments to power's shifting vicissitudes and risk the embarrassments of care's apparent guilelessness. Without this affective labor, its conceptual tools remain inert.
Packed into these two sentences is a bold invitation to think otherwise. And to renegotiate perception and feeling... dare to imagine money as a boundless public reserve. Through imagination, to contest.

And so for day 2409

Horsing Around

Yoland Villemaire
Pr&eacuate;sentation critique
French Kiss: étreinte/exploration by Nicole Brossard

Les intrigues se chevauchent et se confondent, les protagonistes frenchkissent au point de disparaître dans l'étreinte. Ça danse tellement que l'armature du récit n'est plus qu'une radiation du sens et des sens. Ça bouge tout le temps comme une langue, comme une langue dans une autre bouche. «Ça n'est arrivé ni en français ni en anglais» et ça s'écrit dans une toute autre langue! C'est pire que joual; c'est un cheval de Troie [...]
See the galloping: chevaucher, joual, cheval de Troie [...] A form of metonymic enrichment.

And so for day 2408


The Book of Green Tea
Diana Rosen

The copy I acquired had a very smooth excision.

The book is designed with wide margins coloured in light green and adorned with various quotations. Very enticing for someone in search of bookmarkers. Or so at least this is the rationale I give to the disappearance of the design elements from page 17 and page 18. The absence is almost invisible until one goes to turn the page.

green tea open book

Consulting the library copy, I was able to see what attracted the scissors.
green tea p 17 Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has an extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow. — Eisai, Kitcha Yojoki (1211)
green tea p 18 The Way of Tea by Sen-no Rikyu (1522-91) harmony (wa) respect (kei) tranquility (jaku) purity (sei) These four elements are critical to bringing the art of the chanoyu to its exquisite end.
The cutting offers a kind of reverse curation.

It reminds me of my favourite passage in The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. Where the emperor is greeted by a garden shorn of bloom but finds a single specimen in the tea house. Ironically our book was pruned to show a verse given by that very same emperor to the tea master: "When tea is made with water drawn from the depths of mind / Whose bottom is beyond measure, / We really have what is called cha-no-yu. - A verse given to Sen-no Rikyu by his shogun, Toyotomi Hideyoshi."

And so for day 2407

Encouraging Cooking

This set of observations came in response to a call out for assistance in encouraging the reluctant to cook ...

When I look back on my own culinary explorations at few suggestions stand out:

- adopting a spice or an herb and scouring the cookbooks - this helped me develop confidence in seasoning - good place to start is with homemade tomato sauce which is quite forgiving if a wee bit more garlic is added or if the bay leaf is accidentily omitted.

- getting acquainted with equipment - wok, cast iron frying pan, steamer, omelette pan, bain-marie and the simple saucepan - good to known which cooking techniques are suited to the kitchen gear - recipes are often silent on such matters (I discovered that a bain-marie is good not only for custard but also for rice pudding; a video of Jacques Pépin and the good counsel of Julia Child led us to invest in an omelette pan which we now make regular use of - and of course knives! (I am now much more confident with chopping, slicing and dicing since having learnt to hone knives properly).

- using the library to rifle through cookbooks - good way to explore cuisines and chefs without investing in one's own copy and seeing one's shelves groan under the weight - there is one book that has no recipes but is a great resource for flavour combinations: Niki Segnit The Flavour Thesaurus (It has no pictures).

- asking the food purveyors for instructions - thanks to the butcher I discovered the way to cook duck breast to ensure its skin crisps up nicely and was encouraged to explore adding crépinette to my list of sought after pleasures

In short, there is no end to engaging with food - constantly something to learn and try.
And so we send all our best wishes in coaxing your cooking partner along.

And so for day 2406

Welsh for Carrot

This is a short piece from Adam Jacot de Boinod The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World p. 116

Menu Envy

In some cases, though, it’s the unfamiliar word rather than the food itself that may alarm the outsider:
flab (Gaelic) a mushroom
moron (Welsh) a carrot
aardappel (Dutch) a potato (literally, earth apple)
bikini (Spanish) a toasted ham and cheese sandwich
gureepufuruutsu (Japanese) a grapefruit
I guess the English for banana sounds funny too.

And so for day 2405

Pastry & Pedal Power

Wickedly invoking the Queen chorus to Bicycle Race

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my
Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
and juxtaposing it here with an entry on Paris-Brest
A Paris-Brest is one of the finest of French pastries. [...] I have been unable to pinpoint the origin of the name in any of the most reliable dictionaries or encyclopedias, but always assumed that it was named for the world renowned train that ran between Paris and Brest and was known as the Paris-Brest. As it turns out, it was an ill-educated guess. Several people wrote to point out that it was actually named for a bicycle race between Paris and Brest many years ago. One added that "to celebrate this event, a Parisian chef concocted the desert. If you visualize this dessert, You can see that it is in the shape of a bicycle tire."
Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia

Ever now associating the song with the traces of choux pastry and cream on a moustache ...

And so for day 2404

Onomastic Fox

"By Way of Introduction' in which a surprising appearance puts the reader off track, given it is a cookbook that is being read:

Chester County — that glorious rolling countryside in Eastern Pennsylvania whose hills and valleys, woodlands and streams and quiet ponds, whose clover meadows and tilled fields and green pastures with nearby red barns and silos and herds, and whose stone farmhouses and spotless dairy buildings all show what the best traditions of farming and husbandry can mean — it is in Chester County, fox hunting country of the East, that Cooking and Cookery come into their own!
Out of the enumeration of countryside features pops the fox. !!

West Whiteland, Pennsylvania: St. Paul's Church, 1950. Compiled and edited by Virgina Penrose. Illustrated by Cécile Newbold Barnett. [Set up and printed by Princeton University Press]

The copy I have examined is inscribed. In the same hand and the same ink there is a signature by Virginia Penrose and an address for a Mrs. Charles Penrose.

To Margaret Church
With every good
  Virginia Penrose
  July 15, 1954

Mrs Charles Penrose
"Hilltop Cottage"
West Chester RD 2

In consulting the list of contributors (identified by initials throughout), one discovers that "VP" is given as Mrs Charles Penrose and one would assume by the shared initials (and a little knowledge of the custom at the time on how to address married women) that this is the same person as Virginia Penrose, our compiler and editor and one so knowledgeable of fox hunting country.

And so for day 2403


I once sent a posting to Humanist about objects and electronic text editing and as the thread progressed I was reminded of a formulation from Owen Feltham: "Contemplation is necessary to generate an object, but action must propagate it."

The two ways (vita contemplativa and vita activa) bring to mind a statement by Jerome McGann in his essay "The Rationale of Hypertext"

To the imagination, the materialities of text (oral, written, printed, electronic) are incarnational not vehicular forms.
To be found in Electronic Text: Investigations in Theory and Method. Ed. Kathryn Sutherland. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997 (p. 19).

I am intrigued by the possibilities of recasting McGann's exclusionary dichotomy into a pair of allied pursuits (incarnation-contemplation and vehicle-action). The question takes on a hermeneutical hue: just where does the encounter between the horizon of the reader and the horizon of the author take place?

The answer may require a whole (social) renegotiation of what it means to contemplate versus to act upon a text. I suspect that the vexed question of the relations between powers of abstraction and embodied knowledge is at play.

The relations are not likely to be a one-way street. And this has bearing on what is involved in the telos of editing. I turn to Julia Flanders, "The Body Encoded: Questions of Gender and the Electronic Text" (which we find p. 129 in Electronic Text: Investigations in Theory and Method) for a recovery of a history of what were deemed the stakes in editing. She draws on Stephanie H. Jed Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism (1989) to trace and critique a spirit/flesh dichotomy at play in textual editing:
The organizing terms of this relationship revolve around a familiar binary of body and spirit: each physical text, the manuscript or printed book, is a particular concrete carrier of a universalized and disembodied textuality, the "text of the author" which may be fully represented in one physical object, in many, or in none at all. Within this schema the physical object, in a manner familiar to any student of neoclassical aesthetics, is subject to corruption and debasement, its very physicality and particularity drawing it towards the realm of the monstrous and the deviant. The task of the scholar and editor, then, is to discern the universal text within the various documents which instantiate it, and by patient study and labour produce a new — but also originary and authoritative — witness which perfectly transmits the "text of the author". In Jed's example, these texts are the foundational documents by which republican Florence was to construct a public ideology based on an assertion of lineage from ancient republican Rome (p. 75)
Of course the story does not stop here.

And so for day 2402


David Holbrook
"Me and the Animals"

I share my knee bones with the gnat,
My joints with ferrets, eyes with rat
I walk upright, alone, ungoverned, free:
Yet their occasional lust, fear, unease, walk with me
Always. All ways.
To be found in full in any of these (if tables of content are a guide)
  • Selected poems, 1961-1978
  • The Animal Anthology, edited by Diana Spearman
  • The New Poetry, edited by A. Alvarez
Yet to compare for any variance.

And so for day 2401

The Falcon, the Fish and the Heron

Denying oneself one's prey to not become prey in turn...

Then there are the bird fanciers shops, where they train and sell falcons, hawks and other birds of prey. One day in his Majesty's ante-room the Master of the Ceremonies told his Excellency that he himself saw a fine feat performed by a falcon, who seized a large fish in the air. He was flying at a heron who in the strife by instinct threw the fish which he had in his claw, into the falcon's face, and thus escaped the enemy's talons.
Anglipotrida by Horatio Basino
The Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts Relating to English Affairs. Existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice, and in the Other Libraries of Northern Italy. Volume XV (1617-1619), Edited by Allen B. Hinds. (London, 1909)

This comes to me via a friend, Willard McCarty who kindly digitalized a sheaf of photocopies and brought my way the collection of observations about London processions and performances. His calligraphy adorns the bibliographic info:

And in providing permission to reproduce his handwriting, Willard provides a tale of its route to Berneval...
I am so glad you like the observations on English manners. You certainly have my blessing to reproduce my handwriting. Years ago, but many years after I had graduated from skimming the State Papers [in Toronto], I loaned the photocopied pages to my former head of department here [London]. He then moved house, and in the process these pages found their way into a box that remained unpacked all the years he then lived in the new house. It was only when he moved again, from London to Edinburgh, that the box was unpacked, the pages in question discovered and returned to me. Yesterday I scanned them in.

So, a long journey and a new transformation.
And yet such a short interval between friends.

And so for day 2400

A Twinkle

Samuel R. Delany
Historifying Marginal Practices
in Time and the Literary: Essays from the English Institute

Taking on one of the biographers of Hart Crane

As a gay man today I read this with a cold eye. As far as homosexuality not being a problem till Crane was twenty. I hear myself muttering: "A problem for whom?" Homsexuality was the greatest problem for me between the ages of ten and eighteen: once I started doing it, believe me, it became less problematic by whole orders of magnitude.

As far as Crane's contempt for effeminate men, (which Loveman repeats later in his Conversation and Susan Slater Brown declares in Robber Rocks), the only problem with it as a blanket statement is Loveman himself. I can't speak for Loveman's self-presentation at age 30 or 40 (the height of his friendship with Crane), but the single time I met him, with poet and critic Hunce Voelcker, when Loveman was on the far side of 70, he was a wonderfully warm and friendly old gentleman — who looked as if he were moments from flying off through the sun-shot leaves above Greenwich Avenue on twinkle-toed slippers. And Crane had felt nothing but affection for him.
Simply sparkling.

And so for day 2399


Juan Gabriel Váquez in Browse: The World in Bookshops edited by Henry Hitchings.

Reflections on chance:

A reader's life is, among other things, this tissue of opportune coincidences.
And so by luck we arrive.

And so for day 2398

Landscape Amid Crashing Waves

A new take on the sublime

John Adams notes to The Dharma at Big Sur
East Coast / West Coast: Some Musical Autobiography

Coming upon the California coast is a different experience altogether. Rather than gently yielding ground to the water the Western shelf drops off violently, often from dizzying heights, as it does at Big Sur, the stretch of coastal precipice midway between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Here the current pounds and smashes the littoral in a slow, lazy rhythm of terrifying power. For a newcomer the first exposure produces a visceral effect of great emotional complexity. Many writers have tried to describe it directly, but Jack Kerouac did it best. In both his poetry and his novels he comes the closest to evoking my own sense of liberation and excitement, an ecstasy that is nevertheless tinged with that melancholy expressed in the first of Buddha's Four Noble Truths: "All life is sorrowful."
The music travels to you if you cannot be there. Be here.

And so for day 2397

Simple Forceful

From Cyrus Cassells, The Gospel According To Wild Indigo

she will never fear sale
or the bottom of the sea.
This ends a section. It sends the imagination to a space beyond the Middle Passage. The future tense and the negation operate like a promise. The assertion is strong. The partial rhyme sale/sea adds its own authority, or so I would like to claim. It does via an evocation of its homonym hint at a sail flapping in the wind — open to a new direction.

And so for day 2396

Once We Were Nomads

Margaret Atwood
Foreword to A Breath of Fresh Air: Celebrating Nature and School Gardens by Elsie Houghton

Describing the Post-War period after the Victory Gardens disappeared:

There was an undeniable emotional charge to throwing stuff out. Scrimping, saving and hoarding make a person feel poor — think of Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol — whereas dispensing largesse, whether in the form of a prize goose, as in Scrooge's case, or in the form of filling up your garbage can with junk you no longer want, makes you feel rich. Saving is heavy, discarding is light. Why do we feel this way? Once we were nomads, and nomads don't carry around grand pianos. They don't hoard food; instead they move to where food is. They leave a light footprint, as the green folk say. Well, it's a theory.

But we can't all be nomads any more. There isn't enough space left for that.
Not enough space and not enough grace. Just enough humour.

And so for day 2395

In Praise of Felines

Dedication to
Pellegrino Artusi
The Art of Eating Well
Translated from the Italian by Kyle M. Phillips III.

I dedicate this book to two of my best, most pure-hea[r]ted friends, Biancani and Sibillone.

To you, who keep me constant company without envy or resentment and are never bored; to you, who, when I was preparing theses dishes in the kitchen, would rub against my legs while holding your tails high and tremble with the desire to be the first to give me your opinions; to you, who, unlike your kind, cannot be called thieves, and if you are occasionally guilty of a slip, it was just the irresistible attraction you felt for a scrap of cheese or roast chicken that made you transgress; to you, who, with your friendship, offer an example of brotherly love to men, and, intent on grooming yourselves, do not turn your minds to sin.

Finally, to you, who often thrill me with your games and graceful leaps, and have never made me feel unloved.
Affirming meows. Whether from heat or heart.

And so for day 2394

Bon Mots and Fine Images

I wonder if I had been given as an adolescent a copy with such a cover

would I have developed such a love for aphorisms.

I had long ago passed it along. But I came upon it years later and picked it up for the nostalgia factor and that it sported the same cover I remembered from my teens:

And found within the imaginative verve of illustrations providing narrative appeal to the aphorisms. Who knew that Voltaire's "Save me from my friends" would take the form of a duel about to unfold?

The title page truly describes this Hallmark Edition:
The French on Life and Love, Selected by Edward Lewis with frivolous illustrations in color by John Trotta.

And so for day 2393

A Set of Visual Puns

Wallace Edwards
Mixed Beasts

There is an appendix that gives a key made up of line drawings of some to the beasts to be found in the preceding colour illustrations. Here are a few drawn from the abecedarius order.

animal visual puns

Dandylion * Deer Mouse * Dragonfly * Fiddler Crab
Fly Ball * Fowl Ball * Fruit Bat * Horsefly

And so for day 2392

What is Heard

Will Young
on the album Echoes

The lyrics I have seen reproduce the long languorous pauses with line breaks and spacing. They bring into high relief the relation between waiting and thinking.

And it feels like jealousy
And it feels like I can't breathe
And I'm on, down on my knees
And it feels like jealousy.

I'm tired of waiting.

I'm tired of thinking.

And it feels like jealousy (hey)
And it feels like I can't breathe (I can't breathe)
And I'm on, down on my knees (oh)
And it feels like jealousy
Listen in at 1:89 there are more words with telling rests:
And all this
taking over
Right there after the tired of thinking and waiting, just before the iteration of the naming of jealousy. Could this be a case of Will Young: 'I forget lyrics and start making them up'? Improvisation that laid down the track?

And so for day 2391

From The View Towards

On the occasion of his turning 100, a piece appeared about Robert Blackburn, Chief Librarian, under whose leadership the card catalogue was converted to machine-readable form.

It ends with a fine sentiment:

His birthday wish? “Only that my work in all those covered-wagon days will continue to provide my successors with the flexibility and scope that are needed to command a great future.”
That is a classy legacy statement.

And so for day 2390

Gross Domestic Product: Its Limitations

First the examples of what's wrong:

If you were the GDP, your ideal citizen would be a compulsive gambler with cancer who's going through a drawn-out divorce that he copes with by popping fistfuls of Prozac and going berserk on Black Friday. Environmental pollution even does double duty: One company makes a mint by cutting corners while another is paid to clean up the mess. By contrast, a century-old tree doesn't count until you chop it down and sell it as lumber.
Now why (a wartime mentality):
To calculate the GDP, numerous data points have to be linked together and hundreds of wholly subjective choices made regarding what to count and what to ignore. In spite of this methodology, the GDP is never presented as anything less than hard science, whose fractional vacillations can make the difference between reelection and political annihilation. Yet this apparent precision is an illusion. The GDP is not a clearly defined object just waiting to measure an idea.

A great idea, admittedly. There's no denying that GDP came in very handy during wartime, when the enemy was at the gates and a country's very existence hinged on production, on churning out as many tanks, planes, bombs, and grenades as possible. During wartime, it's perfectly reasonable to borrow from the future. During wartime, it makes sense to pollute the environment and go into debt. It can even be preferable to neglect your family, put your children to work on a production line, sacrifice your free time, and forget everything that makes life worth living.

Indeed, during wartime, there's no metric quite as useful as the GDP.
Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World
Rutger Bregman

And so for day 2389

Marks and the Marked

The lines lifted out from their surroundings in the poem could be about cutting and self harm.

Your lacerations tell the losing game
You play against a sickness past your cure.
They are about a preacher's struggle and another type of damage:
What are we in the hands of the great God?
It was in vain you set up thorn and briar
In battle array against the fire
And treason crackling in your blood;
For the wild thorns grow tame
And will do nothing to oppose the flame;
Your lacerations tell the losing game
You play against a sickness past your cure.
How will the hands be strong? How will the heart endure?
Robert Lowell
"Mr. Edwards and the Spider"
The Kenyon Review, Winter 1946, Vol. VIII, No. 1

And so for day 2388

Viola Tricolor Memento

Browse: The World in Bookshops
Edited by Henry Hitchings

Reading in this collection "Bookshop Time" by Ali Smith, I was struck by this passage about what gets inserted and preserved between the pages of books

We leave ourselves in our books via this seeming detritus: cigarette cards with pictures of trees or wildlife; receipts for the chemist; opera or concert or theatre tickets; rail or tram or bus tickets from all the decades; photographs of places and long-gone dogs and cats and holidays; once even a photo of someone's Cortina. Now when I donate books to the shop I have a flick through to make sure that anything tucked into them isn't something I might mind losing.
A Cortina btw is a type of car.

A few days later I find in a copy of Bashō a delicate book marker fashioned as a mark of affection and love. On the one side is a pressed heart's ease patiently arranged and composed with parts from other plants to form a miniature herbarium specimen. On the other side is an inscription dated Valentine's Day 1987. The card is laminated and so protected. A perfect long lasting gift.

viola tricolour valentine


And so for day 2387

drawn line has more than one direction

a drawn line has more than one direction

or so we are informed by

Mark Truscott "There" Branches

How many lines

in this glimpse

of bare tree?


drawn, a line can

never really move

in just one direction.
It gets complicated from there.

There is a great cover image — a puzzle piece image of a tree. Reproduced in grayscale in the inside covers: once completed or solved and once inverted. Roots. Routes.

In lieu of damaging the spine of my copy of the book by being flattened on a scanner bed, here is the cover designed by Tree Abraham and the cover flipped.
cover branches flipped cover branches

Detail counts in this book. The first line stands alone on the first page: "A branch like a line like a branch" is almost taken up verbatim on the second page "Branch like a line like a branch" -- except a noun has been converted into a verb.

And so for day 2386

Sensitivity to Setting

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
In Praise of Shadows
Translated by Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker

On lacquer

First one coat...

And I realized then that only in dim half-light is the true beauty of Japanese lacquerware revealed. The rooms at the Waranjiya are about nine feet square, the size of a comfortable little tearoom, and the alcove pillars and ceilings glow with a faint smoky luster, dark even in the light of the lamp. But in the still dimmer light of the candle stand, as I gazed at the trays and bowls standing in the shadows cast by that flickering point of flame, I discovered in the gloss of this lacquerware a depth and richness like that of a still, dark pond, a beauty I had not before seen. It had not been mere chance, I realized that our ancestors, having discovered lacquer, had conceived such a fondness for objects finished in it.
Then another...
Sometimes a superb piece of black lacquerware, decorated perhaps with flecks of silver and gold — a box or a desk or a set of shelves — will seem to me unsettlingly garish and altogether vulgar. But render pitch black the void in which they stand, and light them not with the rays of the sun or electricity but rather a single lantern or candle: suddenly those garish objects turn somber, refined, dignified. Artisans of old, when they finished their works in lacquer and decorated them in sparkling patterns, must surely have had in mind dark rooms and sought to turn to good effect what feeble light there was. Their extravagant use of gold, too, I should imagine, came of understanding how it gleams forth from out of the darkness and reflects the lamplight.
... prose as carefully built up layer by layer as the objects it describes.

And so for day 2385

Subduing the Imperatives

Comparing what I heard with what I read, I became aware of two versions of the song. A snippet for comparison...

Melanie version Rolling Stones version
There's no time to lose I heard her say
You gotta catch your dreams before they run away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind
Is life unkind

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
Who is gonna hang a name on you
And when you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you
"There's no time to lose, " I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain't life unkind?

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you

Slight but impactful differences ... might ... will

And so for day 2384

Close-up on the Chocolate

Wallace Edwards

Truly captivating images of animals in action and simple verse that complements the images well. From which I have collected these bonbons...

chocolate close-up

chocolate close-up
There are also brushes dripping with paint that get repeated and fruit too.

And so for day 2383

Accepting Ursula's Point of View

Partition by way of modality...

I don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution, I accept it. It isn't a matter of faith, but of evidence.

The whole undertaking of science is to deal, as well as it can, with reality. The reality of actual things and events in time is subject to doubt, to hypothesis, to proof and disproof to acceptance and rejection — not to belief or disbelief.

Belief has its proper and powerful existence in the domains of magic, religion, fear, and hope.
Ursula K. Le Guin "Belief in Belief" in No Time to Spare.

And so for day 2382

The View from the Theatre Box


In the space between meaninglessness of the present and the unknowable past is the entertainment of history. The artifice of history's words is to give historians, whoever they are - gossips, priests, academics - control over the past in a way participants could never control their present. Historians, again, whoever they are, are outsiders. They always make a drama out of what the participants experienced as one damn thing after another. Historians always see the past from a perspective the past could never have had. They are like meteorologists predicting yesterday's weather today. They get their certainties from consequences.
Greg Dening, "A Poetic for Histories" in Performances

And so for day 2381

A Story that Sticks

Sometimes email brings one the most marvellous of anecdotes.

Like this one in a message announcing a show at the Yumart Gallery

"Stuck" isn't in the exhibition. It's gone. I was having a difficult time in my studio; the floor was littered with scraps and cuttings but nothing came together. I decided to go home and on the streetcar I crossed my legs, looking out the window for even a shadow of inspiration. A young woman across from me looked at the sole of my shoe and laughed and pointed. I took off my shoe and looked at the sole: four small random scraps of sticky cuttings had arranged themselves in an interesting pattern around a small torn magazine image of Donald Trump. The word "Ick" covered most of his mouth; an eyeball was embedded in his bouffant; a torn newspaper headline about murder was underneath it all. I disembarked from the streetcar in the rain and walked carefully to preserve "Stuck". But it had disintegrated by the time I reached the studio. I had a good day, then.
Lee Lamothe, Toronto-based photomontage artist.

And so for day 2380