Function and Field and Group

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge
Translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith

On the notion of function (vs structure):

This is not the place to answer the general question of the statement, but the problem can be clarified: the statement is not the same kind of unit as the sentence, the proposition, or the speech act; it cannot be referred therefore to the same criteria; but neither is it the same kind of unit as a material object, with it limits and independence. In its way of being unique (neither entirely linguistic, nor exclusively material), it is indispensable if we want to say whether or not there is a sentence, proposition, or speech act; and whether the sentence is correct (or acceptable, or interpretable), whether the proposition is legitimate and well constructed, whether the speech act fulfils its requirements, and was in fact carried out. We must not seek in the statement a unit that is either long or short, strongly and weakly structured, but one that is caught up, like the others, in a logical, grammatical, locutory nexus. It is not so much one element among others, a division that can be located at a certain level of analysis, as a function that operates vertically in relation to these various units, and which enables one to say of a series of signs whether or not they are present in it. The statement is not therefore a structure (that is, a group of relations between variable elements, thus authorizing a possibly infinite number of concrete models); it is a function of existence that properly belongs to signs and on the basis of which one may then decide, through analysis or intuition, whether or not they 'make sense', according to what rule they follow one another or are juxtaposed, of what they are the sign, and what sort of act is carried out by their formation (oral or written). One should not be surprised, then, if one has failed to find structural criteria of unity for the statement; this is because it is not in itself a unit, but a function that cuts across a domain of structures and possible unities, and which reveals them, with concrete contents, in time and space.
Foucault on the archive
Between the language (langue) that defines the system of constructing possible sentences, and the corpus that passively collects the words that are spoken, the archive defines a particular level: that of a practice that causes a multiplicity of statements to emerge as so many regular events, as so many things to be dealt with and manipulated. It does not have the weight of tradition; and it does not constitute the library of all libraries, outside time and place; nor is it the welcoming oblivion that opens up to all new speech the operational field of its freedom; between tradition and oblivion, it reveals the rules of a practice that enables statements both to survive and to undergo regular modification. It is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements.
In a nutshell: "The a priori of positivities is not only the system of temporal dispersion, it is itself a transformable group."

And so for day 2361

Nitpicking "Picnic"

Hélène Matteau
Les mots de la faim et de la soif

Sets us to rights about the origin of pique-unique in case you thought it came from the English ...

[L]e pique-nique est un repas constitué de plusieurs plats dans lesquels on se sert un petit peu à la fois. Dans lesquels, donc, on... pique, on picore, des niques, c'est-à-dire de petites choses, de petits riens. On a dit que pique-nique avait été piqué à l'anglais. Or, c'est l'inverse, pick-nick étant plus jeune d'une bonne cinquantaine d'années.
I do like the image of picking at little morsels. Like the entries of a lexicon.

And so for day 2360

Pot, Pan, Skillet - Gas, Electric, Charcol

I always thought the cover was quite fetching with its photography by Anthony Denney depicting a cupboard well-stocked with pots and pans, copper, enamel, ceramic.

cover penguin elizabeth david french country cooking

I kept returning to a phrase that granted permission for substitution. (with in my mind the plethora of cooking gear and the whole opening section on batterie de cuisine). In the game-bird recipe for "Les Palombes à la Béarnaise" Elizabeth David with a note of reluctance concedes that something else might do as an appropriate bed:
Failing artichokes, a purée of broad beans or of Jerusalem artichokes or of celery will serve quite well.
I was initially captivated by the permutations that were possible. But upon further reflection it is the form that they assume that makes the passage memorable. It is all structured around an If-Then relation which lends the statement the indubitable air of a logical deduction. If none, then any of this. This concluding sentence with its enumeration flows in an opposite direction to the opening of the recipe where a variety of birds are described but only one method worthy.
The wild doves and the wood pigeons of the Landes and the Béarn are particularly delicious little birds. The ordinary pigeons which one buys in England are rather dull and dry, but cooked à la Béarnaise they can be excellent.
The poise is in the prose.

Elizabeth David French Country Cooking

And so for day 2359

Picking Up the Drop Off

Jericho Brown twists reader expectations in "I Have Just Picked Up a Man". First you believe this is a homoerotic hookup. Then the scene shifts to a dinner and one believes the speaker is committing an act of charity. But the bill of fare is "some poems". Then it just gets superbly weird since this is narrated in the first person the reader experiences split identification with both the reciter and the listener.

What is being read is not only the poems but also the man. The three final stanzas:

But either way, I'll read him
Some poems, glance at myself

In his eyes, and in the moments
Before I drop him anywhere

He wants to go
Neither of us will be alone.
We just might not be with each other.

The poem in question is to be found in Jericho Brown's Please and deserves to be anthologized widely. All those glanced moments pile up and deserve some outlets.

And so for day 2358

Magnifying Portions or Reading The Red Blind

I needed a magnifying glass because the weight of the typeface lent a blurring affect given the tight leading.

Some lines that take on a metatextual twist.
Them's the brakes. Care gives in to bebop pleasure.

Use a concept to pull the hat out of the rabbit.

Don't be a harness for your own dreams.
Greg Evason
The Red Blind
Toronto: The Pink Dog Press, 1991

True printing craftsmanship in producing a chapbook on the long end of 8 1/2 x 11 paper in one signature stapled in the middle. Book design by Kevin Connolly, the founder of Pink Dog Press.

And so for day 2357


Curononsky died in 1956. This bit comes from a volume edited by Jeni Wright published in English in 1989.

A menu, however, is not an abstract exercise. Its composition is based on whatever shopping has been done. A chef or a housewife with an eye for the quality of produce does not shop according to preconceived ideas, after first listing the ingredients needed for some arbitrarily chosen recipe. It is undoubtedly useful, however, to have some general plan in mind for the meal [...] All the great chefs and "cordons-blues" confirm that obvious advantage of "cuisine du marché" (cooking according to the market), which gives preference to seasonal or early produce and allows the best relationship between quality and price.
Curnonsky, Larousse Traditional French Cooking (1989, French 1987)

Chez Panisse was 18 years old in 1989 (poster by David Lance Goines)and had a similar sensibility.

And so for day 2356

Cartographies à la carte

Jennifer Moxley
"The Honest Cook's Insomnia

Brimful of good advice on not only cooking but also reading (by way of analogy).

Don't be smug about outdated foods.
Remember, even iceberg lettuce
was once thought elegant. However
much of an innovator you imagine
yourself to be, our time's tastes will
express themselves through you,
and cooks who come after will
scratch their heads. The 1970s was
mad for Swiss-style cheese fondue,
the 1980s for Italy's sun-dried tomatoes,
such reaching after European dash
looks rather quaint against
the current mania for Asian fusion.
You will always feel nostalgic
for your first exposure to revelatory
flavors. Though you later realize
that your "discovery" was part
of a culture-wide zeitgeist,
your memory will grant you
authorship rights and a pat on
the back for your "innate" good taste.
Taste, like experience, feels individual
but is more often than not shared.
Food is culture. Eating or cooking
will fill the soul with lasting nourishment.
Which whets the appetite and returns us to the opening: "It's best to start with desire."

Even the table of contents looks like a menu.

And so for day 2355

Connotations Constellations

If I were to create a thesaurus I would call it an "aurifodina".

A word-hoard gold mine that would contain this nugget "marcescent".

Leaves kept. Gilded.

Deterred feeding.


And so for day 2354

Writing and Intimations of Mortality

Robert Bringhurst
The Solid Form of Language: An Essay on Writing and Meaning
Gaspereau Press, 2004

The final section worth quoting in full with its carefully stacked repetitions of keywords:

A script is not a language — and the classification of scripts is as different from the classification of languages as the classification of clothes is from the classification of people. Writing, nevertheless, is many things, used by different people in many different ways. In itself, it is both less and more than language. More because it can develop into rich and varied forms of graphic art. Less because, much as we love it, it is not an inescapable part of the human experience or the perennial human condition. If language is lost, humanity is lost. If writing is lost, certain kinds of civilization and society are lost, but many other kinds remain — and there is no reason to think that those alternatives are inferior. Humans lived on the earth successfully — and so far as we know, quite happily — for a hundred thousand years without the benefit of writing. They have never lived, nor ever yet been happy, so far as we know, in the absence of language.
Script is extra. But such a vital vibrant extra.

And so for day 2353

Envisioning the Olfactory

The cover is by Prashant Miranda and appears as a close up partially covered by the title in one edition

but is more expansive in another edition available from the UK

Like two different states of the same perfume. Suitable for a book whose sections are divided into "Top notes, Middle notes and Dry down."

There is a deftness in the words and their positioning ... the image is allowed to waft before a piquant counter-tone is encountered. Take for instance the beginning and end of "Lessons from the First Anglo-Afghan War"
Yesterday, I could have given you
statistics crisp with freshness
every detail, except for the camel
that carried the eau de cologne.
Ayesha Chatterjee
Bottles and Bones

And so for day 2352

Before the Painting: After the Event

It is a long poetic sequence dedicated to Monique Van Genderen. It is

       Feeling panicky about going on so long I show
this to Steve in draft form. "So this is your 9/11 poem?"
To be fair there is no description of the tone of the question. It is sandwiched with other material between a meditation on cravings and substitutes and some sharp remarks on the offensiveness of thinking about your looks.

From Section VII
when cravings come, and will not stand for
substitutes. I get them for seeing art, not virtually
but in person. Online your paintings lose their gloss
to become as flat as these words, which can't even
manage to dent the page or bump along the fingers.
I cannot recall the feeling I get when looking
at art I love. I must return to face it. To stand
before it. to feel its effect. Like the longing for a food
you cannot reproduce. The patty melt, for example,
From Section IV
       the late sixties and early seventies flipped
everything around. They banned the hats and gloves
once used to hide aged pates and liver spots,
exposing adults as the affronts they are to the illusion of
eternal youth. The Southern Californian sidewalks
swarm with the surgically altered, dressed like children
twenty-four seven in brightly colored clothes,
walking ads for corporate aestheticism
masquerading as personal taste. Here in New England
it is an offense to God to think about our looks.
Try it and winter—Protestantism's greatest ally—
will take you down a notch
What these snippets fail to convey is the sprawl which reminds one of the conversational-descriptive style of James Schuyler. Pages and pages later, you want to go back and begin the walk through all over again. Return to face it.

The Open Secret
Jennifer Moxley

And so for day 2351

Respect, Care, Cooking

Signe Johansen in the introduction to Solo: The Joy of Cooking for One cites Nigel Slater and provides good company for the cook.

Consider Solo: The Joy of Cooking for One as a sisterly companion, a book that celebrates those moments when you make the time to cook a simple dish for yourself. As Nigel Slater once wrote: 'Cooking for yourself is simply a matter of self-respect' — an act of kindness to yourself that nourishes both mind and body. So, rather than asking why you should bother cooking for yourself, try reframing your thinking: start with the assumption that looking after yourself is an essential act of kindness, and suddenly cooking a few simple dishes doesn't seem like such a chore.
Nigel's piece in The Guardian appears under the title "Table for one" with a subhead "Cooking for yourself isn't a chore - it's a licence to wallow in culinary desire".

And how a solo goes duo and even a trio — Nigel Slater references Delia Smith's One is Fun.

And so for day 2350

Vertical Virgule Veridical

On page 97 of Picture Theory by Nicole Brossard in the 1982 edition (Montréal, Éditions Nouvelle Optique, coll. « Fiction », 1982) there is an image at the corner of the page. It renders a 3D illusion as if behind the page there was a city, a grid of vertical structures. All at the invitation of the turn of a page...

Toutes étaient touchées ; mais les filles uniques qui s'étaient confondues à la verticalité

Pages later (p. 151) there is a reference to the fold in the paper
La cité calquée dans les plis du papier continu reconduisait l'émotion.
Translated by Barbara Godard
The city traced in the folds of continuous paper was bringing back emotion.
Jumping out of the book into other places/spaces in the oeuvre ... French Kiss: étreinte-exploration [English translation available in The Blue Books (Coach House Press, 2003)]
Red, I open my eyes: a state of mind. By day and by night a cirque ringed in red where centripetal and centrifugal forces make round Camomille and Lucy not just a motion of emotion but a vortex of desires: an ocean, 'a womb where death and life transmute one into the other.' And all this hidden in the cubicled spaces of a tall insalubrious box wedged between two similar blocks, lethal cubes. Tall building / kakémono, translation for verticality with drifting shadows and junks mooring by the shore, early-morning fantasy, a membrane, hovering fog woven in silk. Ideogramme to be deciphered, blacks and whites on over-toasted toast.
Kakemono - a Japanese unframed painting made on paper or silk and displayed as a wall hanging.

Brossard also uses a Japanese term in "Ma Continent" in Amantes which poses a challenge to the translator hoping to capture the play between French ma and Japanese ma *** Barbara Goddard translates in Lovhers this line as "detonation. (mâ)* it's a space/an hypothesis" with the note that "mâ" is Japanese for space and "ma" is a possessive pronoun of feminine gender in French.

Back to "kakemono"

Google translate draws on Oxford Dictionary to provide examples:
‘On awakening he found the figure on the kakemono seemed to be alive.’
‘A kakemono is intended to be displayed vertically as part of the interior decoration of a room.’
‘Rainbows and reptiles at the same time, the compositions rub against each other like kakemonos in a stormy wind.’
‘The same is true with his collection of kakemono, which are hung, along with other pictures, in some sort of rotation.’
‘Two kakemono hung in the library of the Ho-o-den, and one hung in Silsbee's dining room.’
Very suggestive -- was Brossard interested in a Japanese ghost story [The Kakemonon Ghost of Aki Province]? "On awakening he found the figure on the kakemono seemed to be alive."

Let us turn to some French vectors. The entry on Wikipédia for Kakemono references Tanizaki, Éloge de l'ombre
« Les reflets blanchâtres du papier, comme s'ils étaient impuissants à entamer les ténèbres épaisses du toko no ma, rebondissent en quelque sorte sur ces ténèbres, révélant un univers ambigu où l'ombre et la lumière se confondent. »
But the dates don't align the earliest version of Tanizaki's Praise of Shadows in French that I can find dates to 1978; French Kiss appeared in 1974.

Dead end? The passage in Brossard continues...
Une architecture urbaine reflétée sur la pupil-
le. Les cristaux s'échangent l'arc-en-ciel sur les gla-
ces longues luisantes des édifices. Points de jaillis-
sement. Des formes circulant autour de soi ainsi
que des arguments en faveur des ombres chinoises
plus décousues qu'un roman sans fil. Parasites trr,
ça ruse et et se poursuit comme une vaine liido
pigmentation sur la lu pupille.
One thinks of a typo for "libido" but one may be open to a play on the signifier.

French Kiss, p. 33 which in the English translation by Patricia Claxton p. 28 renders "Interference trrr, plays trick on trick like a ji-jiggling waterbed, a liido, crowded beach pigmentation through the pupils as re(a)d."

Claxton picks up the possible allusion to the Lido in Venice and goes further inserting a "waterbed" -- a "lit d'eau" -- into the text.

And she has done her homework...
Occasional typographical errors, have needed correcting in the translation process. Some of these have prompted recourse to the manuscript, which resides in Québec's Bibliothèque nationale along with the pages and pages of orderly notes from which the French text was constructed. One such correction arises from a contradiction between the book's first and second editions; both the manuscript and typescript vindicated the first, by Les Editions de l'homme [? 1974 Édition du jour], which give liido, as opposed libido in the Quinze edition [1980].
And so we build and so we turn.

And so we build a relay, a convergence... Brossard teaches us that texts reach down not like icebergs but like the glass and steel cubes of skyscrapers connected through their foundations into the grid of the city's infrastructure -- to the mass of social and cultural associations -- trusting that there is some sort of connection though indirect between Brossard and the tradition that Tanizaki conveys.

*** hypothesis - via late Latin from Greek hupothesis ‘foundation’, from hupo ‘under’ + thesis ‘placing’.

To which notes, I, paying attention to space, add "spacean" pertaining to voyager through foundations. Also "space/an".

And so for day 2349

Bone Perches

pulls at the gut and pokes at the brain

I came to the poetry of Kristin Chang via the appearance of "Letter From My Grandmother in Tsingtao" in Poetry Daily which republished the piece from Adroit Journal Issue 26.

One particular image from the poem struck me, seared itself into my consciousness: "I taught you to butcher / a bird & convert its bones / into perches". There is of course a very visceral dimension to evoking bones and butchering. But there is also a cerebralness in the notion of use value signalled by the perches, one is poised like the words on a line, not sure for how long. Rest my weary bones.

Details: that's Kristin not Kirstin

And so for day 2348

No Place for Dullness

Edward W. Said
Humanism and Democratic Criticism

p. 11 drawing on Vico

For my purposes here, the core of humanism is the secular notion that the historical world is made by men and women, and not by God, and that it can be understood rationally according to the principle formulated by Vico in New Science, that we can really know things according to the way they were made. His formula is known as the verum/factum equation, which is to say that as human beings in history we know what we make, or rather, to know is to know how a thing is made, to see it from the point of view of its human maker. Hence Vico's notion also of sapienza poetica, historical knowledge based on the human being's capacity to make knowledge, as opposed to absorbing it passively, reactively, and dully.
p. 111 quoting at length Auerbach
With the eclipse of the divine that is presaged in Dante's poem, a new order slowly begins to assert itself, and so the second half of Mimesis painstakingly traces the growth of historicism, a multiperspectival, dynamic, and holistic way of representing history and reality. Let me quote him at length on the subject:
Basically, the way in which we view human life and society is the same whether we are concerned with things of the past or things of the present. A change in our manner of viewing history will of necessity soon be transferred to our manner of viewing current conditions. When people realize that epochs and societies are not to be judged in terms of a pattern concept of what is desirable absolutely speaking but rather in every case in terms of their own premises; when people reckon among such premises not only natural factors like climate and soil but also the intellectual and historical factors; when, in other words, they come to develop a sense of historical dynamics, of the incomparability of historical phenomena and of their constant inner mobility; when they come to appreciate the vital unity of individual epochs, so that each epoch appears as a whole whose character is reflected in each of its manifestations; when, finally, they accept the conviction that the meaning of events cannot be grasped in abstract and general forms of cognition and that the material needed to understand it must not be sought exclusively in the upper strata of society and in major political events but also in art, economy, material and intellectual culture, in the depths of the workaday world and its men and women, because it is only there that one can grasp what is unique, what is animated by inner forces, and what, in both a more concrete and a more profound sense, is universally valid: then it is to be expected that those insights will also be transferred to the present and that, in consequence, the present too will be seen as incomparable and unique, as animated by inner forces and in a constant state of development; in other words, as a piece of history whose everyday depths and total inner structure lay claim to our interest both in their origins and in the direction taken by their development.
I turn to the cover and the ticket stub used as a book marker with the clever inversion of the usual "Admit One" — into the very democratic "Admit All".

Admit Vico. Admit Auerbach. Admit You.

And so for day 2347

The Return

Garden Lore of Ancient Athens (1963)
Excavations of the Athenian Agora Picture Books No. 8
American School of Classical Studies at Athens

I am captivated by the story of the origin of the Corinthian order of columns in the section devoted to "Poetic Weeds".
Also tall, but mauve white, is the spire of the acanthus (bear's foot) which rises from a calyx of large foliate leaves. In Greece the spinosus grows wild, in Italy the more common type is the mollis; both species were cultivated in Greece. A sculptor of fifth-century Athens, Kallimachos, once saw an acanthus growing over a basket that had been set on the grave of a Corinthian girl by her devoted nurse. Struck by the rich plasticity of the curling leaves, he created the column capital that is still called 'Corinthian'.
The tale's source is Vitruvius.

And so for day 2346

The Turn

Sunil Gupta in conversation with Saleem Kidwai in Gupta's Queer, (Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2011)

SK: What about gay politics in NY?

SG: It had become purely gay. It was 1976, post-Stonewall and before AIDS. Everything was about hedonism and that was great. It was like the whole liberationist sexual politics had come to life. Everybody appeared to be practicing it.

SK: As documented in the film we saw.

SG: yeah, Gay Sex in the 70s. All of which I observed but was personally less involved in. Maybe I was using the camera to satisfy my curiosity.

SK: Yes, it was so much in your face, which was a shock for me three months out of Delhi. You didn't have to go to a gay bar. Gay men everywhere — in the bank and in grocery stores. They had created this sub-culture which you caught in your pictures of Christopher Street — all those men with neat moustaches and in tight jeans.

SG: It was very white.

SK: Yes, but there was also a black gay presence.

SG: But that was very little of it. It was hardly there at that time.

SK: Well there were many black men in the bars.

SG: Yes, that's true. But I didn't really encounter any personally. None or hardly any. I guess, in retrospect, New York had more absolute numbers of people of colour and the end result was more segregation. I didn't know then but I realize now that they were doing their own thing in a different place. But we never saw them. I think Indians by and large, and I was no exception, got assimilated into what we saw as the mainstream white culture. by doing the photography courses and not the business school I became even more cut off from immigrant culture.

SK: Which was all white?

SG: Which was largely white.

SK: But that changed, which was a new beginning.

And so for day 2345


Comparing interests, interesting comparison

Drawn from Microsoft Office thesaurus

system of government
civil service

Variant spelling leads to adjacent semantic space.

And a quick peek at Roget's International Thesaurus Third Edition which has the one spelling:



And so for day 2344


From Wordsworth Tintern Abbey poem

These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts
Emily Dickinson #321
Then quiver down, with tufts of tune -
Both I take it looking down upon the scene; both caught by the sight of the tough stuff ...

And so for day 2343

Companionship: Between Wading and Plunging

Molly Peacock
The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008

She points out a concern to reach and embrace:

What I see, from poets from diverse backgrounds, provinces, ages and personal categories, is a unity, a core, something identifiable as a gesture in Canadian poetry itself, not in the poets' backgrounds or personalities, but in the poems they produce, poems that presume a kind of companionship with their readers and assume their readers's willingness to undertake a tandem adventure.
And she goes on to offer an analogy to swimming
Think of this volume as a swimming pool. Poet and reader go in together. Finally they hit the place where their feet leave the bottom and then they swim, experiencing something they both know is over their heads. That is what poetry is trying to stay afloat in a element in which you might sink, and which is surely over your head.
In our imaginations, diversity is reintroduced: back stroke, breast stroke, butterfly.

And so for day 2342

At the Meeting of Three Faculties

Lorne Pierce An Editor's Creed
(Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1960)

In the fourth and last section "Respect for the decencies, the individual, the intangibles" appears an anecdote who's theme is considerably enlarged:

At the reception following Convocation at one of our universities, a small cluster gathered. They represented the Arts, Science and Divinity faculties. One of the Science professors asked me what one word stood out in all my reading, I replied that, if I had to choose one word, and not a phrase or a sentence, I would choose the word wonder. Does not wonder lie at the core of the arts and letters, of science and invention, and even of philosophy and religion? It is compounded of reverence and imagination, and every man must find the essence of it for himself. When found he will know it, for, confronted with it, he will instinctively uncover the head and bow the knee. It is the one great thing, beyond price and worthy of all honour.

It seems to me that this is where the publisher most truly joins hands with the university and with religion, for all three hope to set a lighted candle in the window of the world agains darkness and despair. A passionate interest in the world and insatiable curiosity about it — this the Greeks called wonder. Wonder is the threshold to fundamental feelings and ideas about ourselves, about the world around us, and about our destiny as individuals and as a race. It is the one sure way by which our sensibilities may be extended and enlarged.
Wonder remains a key operative word and concept.

The extension of reverence may take on less the trappings of veneration and yet remain a pause inflected by awe.

To inquire about the source of this awe, it is worthwhile to return to the beginning of the creed. To organize his talk, Pierce recalls setting down what Egerton Ryerson stood for
He hoped to build a covered bridge between East and West; between French and English; between Catholic and Protestant; between the learned and the unlearned.

He insisted upon respect for the decencies — all of them; respect for the value and dignity of the individual, and a man's right to be heard; respect for the intangibles — the things that money cannot buy.
Today we would for Protestant-Catholic think of Christian-Muslim, for French-English think of Indigenous-settler reconciliation, for East-West the sea-to-sea-to-sea invocation that reminds us of Arctic sovereignty threatened by climate change.

Still the word "decency" is fitting to cover the altered bridgings.

Respect: to look back at. With a regard of reverence. With a sense of wonder.

And so for day 2341

Seared & Cauterized

Jack Kornfield
A Path With Heart

Sometimes when the demons are most difficult, we can use a variety of temporary practices that function to dispel them and act as antidotes. For desire, one traditional antidote is to reflect on the brevity of life, on the fleeting nature of outer satisfactions, and on death. For anger, an antidote is the cultivation of thoughts of loving-kindness and an initial degree of forgiveness. For sleepiness, an antidote is to arouse energy through steady posture, visualization, inspiration, breath. For restlessness, an antidote is to bring concentration through inner techniques of calming and relaxation. And for doubt, an antidote is faith and inspiration gained through reading or discussion with someone wise. However, the most important practice is our naming and acknowledging these demons, expanding our capacity to be free in their midst. Applying antidotes is like using Band-Aids, while awareness opens and heals the wound itself.
The brand name leads me to contemplate alternatives: dressing, bandage, plaster. And the French translations as pansement and its Middle French homophone pensement. The Thinking Wound. Like a pharmakon. A name. A brand.

And so for day 2340

Poetry After Freud

A. Alvarez
The New Poetry

The introductory essay outlines a set of negative feedbacks operating in British poetry in reaction to the work of T.S. Eliot. This is what it concludes:

What poetry needs, in brief, is a new seriousness. I would define this seriousness simply as the poet's ability and willingness to face the full range of his experience with his full intelligence; not to take the easy exits of either the conventional response or choking incoherence. Believe in it or not, psychology has left its mark on poetry. First, the writer can no longer deny with any assurance the fears and desires he does not wish to face; he knows obscurely that they are there, however skilfully he manages to elude them. Second, having acknowledged their existence, he is no longer absolved from the need to use all his intelligence and skill to make poetic sense of them. Since Freud, the late Romantic dichotomy between emotion and intelligence has become totally meaningless.
I may venture to surmise that emotion and intelligence are connected by feedback loops.

And so for day 2339

Scientism of the Dismal Science

Notice how the mention of "worldly philosophers" (and I am assuming an allusion to Robert L. Heilbroner's book) triggers a contemplation of the consequences of resisting hegemonic discourse.

Fellow economists, as you can imagine, get very angry with me when I tell them that we face a choice: we can keep pretending we are scientists, like astrologers do, or admit that we are more like philosophers, who will never know the meaning of life for sure, no matter how wisely and rationally they argue. But were we to confess that we are at best worldly philosophers, it is unlikely we would continue to be so handsomely rewarded by the ruling class of a market society whose legitimacy we provide by pretending to be scientists.
From the epilogue to Talking to My Daughter About The Economy Or, How Capitalism Works — and How It Fails by Yanis Varoufakis.

And so for day 2338

Social Prescriptions and Protopia

The Royal Ontario Museum reports on social prescriptions in action

About Social Prescriptions

Social prescriptions are a means for healthcare, community, and social service professionals to refer people to non-clinical and non-medical services that, along with existing treatments, can be a therapeutic tool for improving health and well-being.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded a one-year pilot project with The Alliance for Healthier Communities in September 2018. This program offers social prescriptions in 11 community health centres to address the growing problems of loneliness and social isolation, particularly among older adults. The ROM will be collaborating with the Alliance throughout the year to better understand the impact of museums on health and well-being. Research resulting from this collaboration will help inform the ROM Social Prescription Program as it evolves.
This encounter with the notion of "social prescriptions" in a message from the ROM made me wonder about "digital social prescriptions." What would they look like?

I'm slowly making my way through Kevin Kelly's The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. This material is way better than his previous work. I remember being put off on his hive mind riffs. This seems more measured and asks the reader to be attentive to the bits of the future that are already here and he clears away any tension between utopia and dystopia by coining the term "protopia."
[N]either dystopia nor utopia is our destination. Rather, technology is take us to protopia. More accurately, we have already arrived in protopia.

Protopia is a state of becoming rather than a destination. It is a process. In the protopian mode, things are better today than they were yesterday, although only a little better. It is incremental improvement or mild progress. The "pro" in protopian stems from the notions of process and progress. The subtle progress is not dramatic, not exciting. It is easy to miss because a protopia generates almost as many new problems as new benefits.
Sounds as if he is inspired by Eastern philosophy. Perfect prescription to balance out unchecked teleological inclinations.

And so for day 2337

Frag Meant Meat

Not What the Siren Sang But What the Frag Ment (for Margaret Alison)

From the 7 ¼ floppy record borders included in the box bp, published in February 1967 by Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario).

Appeared in

Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer

Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer is Nichol's very first book. Originally published in England by Bob Cobbing in 1967, and then in Canada in 1973 by Nelson Ball's Weed/Flower Press

New edition with introduction and notes by Nelson Ball, Coach House Press, 2004

A pdf copy of the 1969 second edition made from the copy housed at the University of Victoria Library is available through the bpNichol archive

Note how the Title Lines align.
The first stanza is built up out of anagrams.
leaf    autumn    sky
flea    umantu    kys
"umantu" looks like "ubuntu" — a trick of a sky kiss

And so for day 2336


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 achieve 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 in pay 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 Guérillères. 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