blog,personal commentary,reflections on the human condition,ephemera,notes from the underbelly
http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/wood_s_lot.html - Nov 22, 2014 8:38:15 PM - Nov 28, 2004 7:34:47 AM
November 21, 2014
Snowstorm at BrightonEdward Bawdend. November 21, 1989... we are living through a profound mutation in the nature of attention, never have we had so many distractions or devices soliciting our attention. What remains in question is first whether or not this transformation is best of all understood as a new economy of attention? Terms such as "paying," "cost," and "investment" regularly suggest themselves when it comes to discussing attention. Attention appears as a scarce resource and it is quite easy to speak of losses and gains when it comes to attention, as every moment spent reading tweets is not spent reading books. The more important question is whether or not attention can be understood as an economy of sorts, but whether we have entered a new phase of capitalism in which attention itself is productive of value. Metaphor meets mode of production.Synthetic_zero
Attention cannot made to function like labor, it cannot be the source of value. This is not to say that attention is without its economic effects. The standardization of attention, its abstraction and measure, on one hand, and the battle over what one pays attention to, on the other, are central struggles to extract wealth from the flows of attention. Two strategies of the "vectorial class"are to own the icons and images the attract attention as well as the platforms that measure and standardize it. With respect to the former, Disney's buying of Marvel and Star Wars is nothing other than a kind of primitive accumulation of attention, every superhero is a vast mine of nostalgia; while facebook and Google's attempt to insert themselves as the interface for everything from research an essay to sharing pictures of grandkids can be considered the real subsumption of attention. As with Marx's real subsumption of capital, such institutions do not just effect the form of attention, focusing as its medium, but transform its very relations. The "like" button compresses so many responses, love, friendship, support, into an easily quantifiable data point. Citton's ecology of attention is constructed around a broader set of concerns regarding activity and passivity in attention. As Citton argues the question is how to make attention not how to pay it. How to construct the possible conditions that make our attention our activity rather than the passive construction of the effects of others? The question is ultimately more spinozist, it is a question of constructing common notions against the singular points of wonder and fascination. As Citton argues, work, entertainment, and social life converge in a state of constant semi-attentiveness. Updates and alerts define our work life, social life, and define what remains of politics. Transforming this constant distraction requires the cultivation of new habits and the transformative use of the existing technologies of attention.The City Helwig Brunner translated by Monika Zobel The city simplified to lines, makeup removed from your face. Houses, footsteps, and thoughts are made of the same material, graphite dust and diamonds. Time stalls, lowers your lids, to be now for once in the midst of a sleeping world, clear-sighted turned toward the groping questions of the somnambulists.Four Way Review Issue #3
RookeryEdward Bawden 1954
Tree Encyclopedia by O. G ham Monica DattaconjunctionsOliver’s father, before he left, said the old books were scrawled in ink on birch from Kashmir long ago, crumpled to dust. When the frost coated the birch branches Oliver picked them up, coating his hands in a glassy silver crust. Birches dotted the coast and moorland, coddled in icy hungry lichens. They were up from London to help with the shaving. On Sundays Oliver brought the soft brush—ivory, his brother Philip horror-whispered—and a bowl of foam. His mother gave his grandfather a beard and ran the blade swish about the planes of his face, scraping dark peat and smoothing the skin with a damp towel. He was as tall as a blunt nub on the birch bark, a ripple made large. Oliver placed the razor at the end of a paper curling, and stripped paint curls to his feet till he laid bare muscled striations of wood and gasped. He pocketed the scraping and removed the flesh around the pencil so he could rasp the lead against the page of his notebook, which said: Oliver Graham, eight, Leith, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, Planet Earth, heaps of freckles At home he lined up the tip of his thumb with the base of the left doorway and flicked a red marble down the way to knock out the bit of wall that covered the mouse hole, which now cradled the bark, blade, and paper in a handkerchief.
Pierre Joris: from Justifying the Margins: “Nimrod in Hell” with a note & reminiscence on Joris même
Poet, translator: même combat! We keep hunting among stones, Dante hunts down language in the De Vulgari Eloquentia where he tells us: “let us hunt after a more fitting language…so that our hunt may have a practicable path, let’s first cast the tangled bushes & brambles out of the wood.” (Ronald Duncan’s translation, modified). But the selva will always be oscura, mutters Rimbaud in the Ardennes, stumbling through Hubert’s hunting grounds, escaping mother and her tongue (is that why he gives up writing poetry?) and he stubs a toe, goes to Africa, travels the desert, the open space, no selva oscura, no guide needed, he has learned the languages, this nomad poet who knew that “living in the same place [he] would always find wretched,” to go on trafficking in the unknown, master of “la chasse spirituelle,” a hunt that will not let up.parts, wholes, abstracts, tropes and ontology Friederike Moltmann interview by Richard Marshall3a.m.The ontology reflected in the referential terms of natural language is a richer ontology than the ontology most philosophers and in fact 'ordinary people' are willing to accept.Friederike Moltmann is the Aberlour of philosophical linguistic interface. Her thoughts continually burn bright as she contemplates whether language really does carve nature at the joints, broods on descriptive, revisionary, shallow and fundamental metaphysics, on mereology and why extensional mereology won’t do, on the role of integrated wholes, on what reference situations take care of, on why natural language doesn’t allow abstract objects in its core and thinking it does is a result of naïve analysis, on the surprising ontology of natural language, on trope ontologies and on why systematic application of linguistic methodology can have serious philosophical consequences. The wind howls and the rain batters against the windows but these thoughts pour out like a different kind of storm…
Edward BawdenFive Poems by Helwig Brunner translated by Monika Zobelthe adirondack reviewI wantedHelwig Brunnertranslation by Monika Zobel I wanted to live among more eloquent tongues, below skies that didn’t collapse mercilessly into emptiness. One morning on the sidewalk a lens from a pair of glasses— out of its frame—glared up at me, brought me into sharp focus for the optic nerve of an absent person and passed the image on towards the center of the earth. "But whosoever shall zoom in into my interior shall fall through pixilated clouds of an unredeemable I.” I continued on, entered a house, remained here for a while, pressed my fingers on square keys with strange symbols. Could be, I wrote, we’ll meet in the wrong eon in the blue of a false planet, could be that what we're looking for with our eyes closed is not here. Later I googled the bony world of positivism and assured myself of your unproven love.no man's land # 8 Winter 2013
November 20, 2014
Paysage1904Robert Demachy 1859 - 1936Skull of a CurlewTheo Dorgan Skull of a curlew full of stars, my mouth on fire with black, unspeakable bees. Light on the lime boles, bleached and bare, my gorge rising, crammed with blackfurred bees. Clay of the orchard on my cheek, cheeks puffed like wind on a map’s margin. Dust in each lungful of cold air, lips burned on the inside by black bees. I wait for the moon to rise me I pray to the midnight ant I clutch at fistfuls of wet grass I hammer the earth with bare heels. Skull of a curlew full of stars, night sky dredged with the eyes of bees. Black fire around each star, I swallow fear in mouthfuls of fur and wing. Skull of a curlew full of stars, the great hive of heaven heavy around me. I spit out bees and black anger, mouth of a curlew, fountain of quiet stars. Theo Dorgan, from: What This Earth Cost Us
On the voyage of life, all that finally matters is ‘fellow-ship’Nine Bright Shiners, Theo Dorganreviewed by Thomas McCarthyTheo Dorgan at Poetry International
There is a strong political sense in these poems that the poor shall inherit the Earth and that poets, somehow, will one day own all the means of production. Dorgan’s is a generation of intellectuals radicalised by Herbert Marcuse and Jean Paul Sartre, illuminated by Costa Gavras and bewitched by Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Newer generations of Irish writers, those reared in a private, ironic world (so private that they are outraged by the free gift of a U2 album) could never understand the massive optimism contained within Dorgan’s unbroken sense of community. Such a belief in political community is, in a very real sense, an affront to the modern. Frankly, my modern dears, Dorgan does not give a damn:‘I saw his last matches for the Glen, the young bucks already impatient to sweep him to the heavens where blood and raw knuckles, mud and defeat or victory would fade into remembered youth A child myself, I sensed their insensate cruelty, the watchful precise impatience of the young.’The poem here is ‘Learning My Father’s Memories’ and the remembrance is of Christy Ring, the greatest hurler of them all, it could be said, who when he rose to catch a sliotar was pushed sky high by several adoring townlands, from Cloyne to Blackpool. It is that sense of community that Dorgan captures to describe and praise life.
A Fisherman’s Bedroom1853Christen Dalsgaard1824 - 1907
Speculative Anarchism arranjamesAttempts At Living
Many anarchists have engaged with continental philosophy only begrudgingly or not at all. The epithets of idealism, self-importance, separation from everyday concerns, and theoretical self-indulgence, as well as a certain stale boredom, haven’t gone unanswered by certain circles of philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists. The speculative turn towards materialism and realism offer an opportunity for anarchism to re-engage with a different kind of philosophy.
The term ‘speculative turn’ may be getting old fashioned already by this point, just as the names that preceded it (“speculative realism”, “object-oriented philosophy”, “the new materialisms”) have also begun to undergo mutations, modifications, disappearances. Some of these authors are now speaking of ‘machines’ instead of objects, of posthuman life, or may be more readily understood as weird nihilists or accelerationists. I don’t pretend that I have a comprehensive understanding of the various strands of the new materialist and realist orientations, and I don’t want to act as guide or (even less) teacher. That said I have decided to assemble a list of books that a speculative anarchism reading group could consider looking at.
Robert Genter and Splitting Modernism Andrew Hartman reviewing Late Modernism: Art, Culture, and Politics in Cold War America
So what does it mean that we are all neo-pragmatists? How can we understand the strengths and weaknesses of our work when we’re all more or less working from the same epistemological vantage point? Alasdair MacIntyre insists that we must learn from pre-modern traditions that enable “us to overcome the constraints on self-knowledge that modernity… imposes.” Is this even possible? What other possibilities for self-knowledge are open to us? Or is it pragmatism all the way down?
Slavoj Zizek: Spirit as the Wound of Nature S.C. Hickman quotes from Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical MaterialismDark EcologiesSpirit is itself the wound it tries to heal, that is, the wound is self-inflicted. “Spirit” at its most elementary is the “wound” of nature. The subject is the immense— absolute— power of negativity, the power of introducing a gap or cut into the given – immediate substantial unity, the power of differentiating , of “abstracting,” of tearing apart and treating as self-standing what in reality is part of an organic unity. This is why the notion of the “self-alienation” of Spirit is more paradoxical than it may appear: it should be read together with Hegel’s assertion of the thoroughly non-substantial character of Spirit: there is no res cogitans, no thing which also thinks, Spirit is nothing but the process of overcoming natural immediacy, of the cultivation of this immediacy, of withdrawing -into-itself or “taking off” from it, of— why not?— alienating itself from it. The paradox is thus that there is no Self that precedes the Spirit’s “self-alienation”: the very process of alienation generates the “Self” from which Spirit is alienated and to which it then returns.
Robert Demachy 1896
Special Feature on Kenneth Irby(b. November 18, 1936)Jacket2This feature devoted to the work of Kenneth Irby collects a number of papers delivered at the 2011 colloquium devoted to Irby in Lawrence, Kansas, along with new essays by Robert Bertholf, Dale Smith, Matthew Hofer, and others; a chronology, a poem by Nathaniel Tarn, some uncollected Irby poems, a selection of letters between Irby and Ed Dorn, and a cluster of former student musings; and sound recordings from the Lawrence symposium, including readings by Irby.
November 18, 2014
Jean Paul Lemieux
b. November 18, 1904
Nineteen PoemsKenneth Irby at EPC and PennSound
Edited by Ken Irby
for Ed Dorn
The space out of the river lands I saw
spread, go on to you
still now, I left before
they had gone there, I turned at Burley
along the river’s meadows out of sight of
the starch plants, I knew you lived
And look to now. This sight
in sight out a window at a snow
lighting on the yard and truck yard next door
goes on to you. What is any friend-
Worth or not worth it, hope
gives on this snow
falls to you
warmly. Open o open
up our moments
The highways another summer go over
the inches unfrozen under the wet snowed ground
fallen on now —
Massachusetts slums muddy and snow on gone
to Kansas grasses
plait, winds home to
I know is there only
Lacking out of
land wrapped in this snow.
— 19 Feb [1963, Cambridge, MA]
Jean Paul Lemieux
A Poetics of Radical Evil
So to be reiterative and reductive: the langpo-tinctured discursive venture is not a poetics of pure indeterminacy, but of pure contingency, and in this sense, of failure. Failure to communicate, which is the fundamental condition of language itself, and the place where the categorical imperative—act as if communication is possible, and communication is possible—serves as maxim for most standard poetics and traditional criticism.
... there must be an excavation, necessarily wrenching, in addition to a radical archiving, necessarily annoying. In other words, it is not enough to walk down the Department hall, or cross a theoretical divide that is not a divide, at least not in practice. There is no art without theory, no theory without art, there is the art of theory, and it is just as impure as any theory of art. It is time to rescind all licenses and make things truly free. Which, though it sounds like a sweet liberatory call, something that ought to be issued by one with some modicum of utopianism, or at least the itch for something better than this, is more a statement of fact, designed to prod us along into the future anterior, that conditional to-be. In other words, a violent and manacled responsibility, even duty. To what? To insist that poetry is what poetry isn’t.
An a-poetics is not concerned with the lack of aesthetic or ethical good, as in insufficient quality/quantity, for that is institutional critique of the dialogic variety, one that hopes that widening the terms of the dialogue will produce more poetic goods—the subjective and objective imperatives will happily coincide. An a-poetics rather insists that, to use another numerical referent, the trinity is the new binary, and there is no dialogue, no call and response because the poem is no longer treated as a text to be read, however many ways and loose, but is cut loose altogether. The poem is simply a site of potential engagement like other works of art are simply sites for potential engagement, and there may be no “reading” just as there may be no “writing,” but a tripartite encounter with a textual surface. An encounter effected by what I have called a “sobject,” an entity that is neither subject nor object but anthropomorphic soup, spatio-temporally seasoned.
d. November 18, 1976
Deconstruction and Non-Philosophy [pdf]
Translated by Nicholas Hauck(....)via synthetic-zero
5.2 Non-philosophy does not emphasize otherness or differences; it does not compound them through différance, and does not content itself with establishing play while conserving the deconstructionist's ex machina authority (which amounts to the same thing as enclosure). It does not add to nor subract from the immanent deconstruction of the thing (of texts); rather, it substitures unilateralism for difference (différance), the structure of the immanent existing-Stranger for differing, and it breaksthe enclosure, at least for the Real. If in the best of philosophical cases there is pure difference - a signifier in contrast to nothing, not even another signifier nor one that is absolutely removed from the chain, a "Greco-Judaic" signifier we could say - then there is a pure otherness that delimits, not in opposition to immanence (which has no limit), but a One-limitation that is opposed to the system as its possibilizing impossibility.
La Maison des Chapdelaine
Jean Paul Lemieux
_______________________With Senate Poised to Vote on Keystone XL, New Analysis Reveals Dangerous Toll of U.S. PipelinesCenter for Biological Diversity
WASHINGTON - With the U.S. Senate poised to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, a new analysis of federal records reveals the dangerous toll of pipelines in the United States. In just the past year and four months, there have been 372 oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other incidents, leading to 20 deaths, 117 injuries and more than $256 million in damages.
The new data adds to a June 1, 2013 independent analysis of federal records revealing that since 1986, oil and gas pipeline incidents have resulted in 532 deaths, more than 2,400 injuries and more than $7.5 billion in damages.
Jean Paul Lemieux
November 17, 2014 _______________________
Translated by David McDuff
books from FinlandWhen I took my first walk here in Udda, along the road down to the end of the bay, my legs wanted to go left up to the forest, while I strove to walk straight ahead. It was an unsteadiness reminiscent of being slightly drunk. A slight vertigo I have already noticed before. Trees soughed through me and the water of the bay tasted almost like salt on my lips. All sorts of things try to pass straight through me nowadays. I am becoming a general store. The few people I know go there and choose, and I try to sell. Most of it is old memories with attendant dust. They are in no chronological order at all, and make involuntary, rapid leaps, like kangaroos. Even when I went to school they hopped around. They forced me to learn my lessons by heart. They continued to skip over me at university and added an extra complexity to my studies in general history: concentrate of reign lengths.
And if I followed my legs and gave not a damn about my dead straight road? Digressions from what was planned provided me later on with my best experiences, and coincidences were grains of gold. Improvisations were lucky throws, or disasters. Afterwards came the restrictions, the constructions, the architecture. Now only that squared-paper notebook remains with its pitfalls. The uncertainty is sometimes imperceptible, but is there: Am I not superfluous? Are not my legs somewhat irrational?
Entangled in such questions, as in a magpie’s nest or in Kafka’s Odradek, I go forward, a dry leaf among a large number of other dry leaves. ...(more)
Robert Wyatt interviewedLife is a small space now, much more intimate. I'm not out there in the world anymore, but I'm watching.
Pitchfork(....)via Steve Mitchelmore
It may be an English thing, in a way, laughing it off at a distance and using that as self-protection. I mean, I don't want to be a professional cripple. And I don't see the suicide stuff as tragic. Basically, at that age, I looked at what adults were doing and how they wanted to earn money, and I really didn't want to do that. I wanted to go away. I have my moods like that a lot. I'm not a fighter in that sense at all.
I don't think losing things—in my case, the use of my legs—really damages or hurts you. What hurts people a lot is taking humiliation. A lot of the wars going on right now in the Middle East aren't about poverty and exploitation. They’re about humiliation. For a long time, certainly the British and French have been humiliating and dismissing the people of the Middle East, and encouraging people like Israel to do the same. Israel started out as a socialist state, but we always encouraged them to become rather racist and look down on the local inhabitants, which they now do. It's sad that's happened.
Document against loss
entropyI call this Document against loss because isn’t all recording, in art or otherwise, done against the threat of loss of memory, of life? A warning and a remembrance. Would we document without the threat of loss? Our memories are a compilation of losses, some beautiful, some devastating; the very condition of being human is living in loss. This is why we try to keep and curate and tenderly preserve what we see and hear, what we are about to lose, whether through distance or time or devastation. What we choose to keep by recording makes it somehow possible that we can ward off our loss, or momentarily believable that there has been no loss, or to feel we can change conditions so that there will be no loss, or that we can somehow mitigate it. So hopes and griefs are always united in the record.
Performance, reinvention, and alternate realities
Will Oldham interviewed by Gary Canino
The controlling idea, I think, is not supposed to be about the performer, but the listener. The performer is always going to dominate and control the whole experience, but as much as you drain expression out of the performance, it's still going to be completely dominated by the performer. You can get people to sand off those portions of the performance that maybe allow the individual more access and the listening experience to have more to it. If it's all about the performer's idiosyncrasies and emotions, then there is no room for the audience. Some audience members might like that kind of music, but take something hyper-emotive, like Janis Joplin, and I'll think, Ok, Janis, there is no room for me in these songs, so I'll just turn this off and listen to something else.
Notes from the Anthropocene #1
Glenn Dyer and Stephanie Wakefield
brooklyn rail(....)via I Cite
In light of the Anthropocene, geologists have also begun reshuffling their own rubrics, expanding the purview of paleontology from the organic to the inorganic and from the past to the present with the introduction of “technostratigraphy.” According to Zalasiewicz and colleagues Colin Waters (Principal Mapping Geologist at the British Geological Survey) and Mark Williams (Professor of Palaeobiology with Zalasiewicz at Leicester), technofossils may well stand as the most convincing evidence of the epoch’s environmental signature. In the first-ever instance of geoscientists using anything other than biological fossils to help classify a chronostratigraphical unit, the A.W.G. are not looking at dinosaur vertebrae frozen in amber or ancient leaf imprints found in stone, but at critical infrastructures and cities like New York itself, which they see as “one of the most extensive, durable and geologically distinctive aspects of the Anthropocene” and thus as representative index fossils of the epoch’s recent, current, and near future. Whereas palaeontology has always been about studying past geological artifacts, the objects now under consideration as Anthropocene fossils—the key evidence in the Anthropocene dossier—are those of our present-day, still-functioning civilization. Thus for the first time in history, geologists are now dating an epoch in the present tense, studying contemporary, still functioning, infrastructures as fossils, studying the constituent elements of our civilization the way they once studied the remains of a long-vanished life form.
Through their attempt at naming and measuring the epoch of man, studying cities and subways as fossils in real time, and conjuring future geologists from outer space to study a world in which this civilization has completely vanished, these geologists have called our entire civilization and its requisite way of life a ruin. It would be easy to read the “humanity” implied in the Anthropocene as the final expression of modern man’s vanity, one last Promethean blast, but doing so misses entirely what’s most decisive about the stratigraphers’ concept: the Anthropocene elevates liberal humanity to prime geohistorical agent, center of the world, but does so only in the moment of its historical collapse. Has there ever been a civilization that named itself after its most cherished principle in order to call the whole thing a failure?
November 14, 2014
The Gypsy Fires Are Burning for Daylight's Past and Gone
The Nothingness That Speaks French
Public Seminar CommonsQuentin Meillassoux’s The Number and the Siren (published by Urbanomic and Sequence Press, and elegantly translated by Robin Mackay) is quite simply the most beautiful book by a philosopher that I have read for many years. It is a highly original reading of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Coup De Dés.
If the objective of Meillassoux’s other book, After Finitude, is to be done with the philosophy of consciousness, the objective of The Number and the Siren is to be done with the philosophy of language. This is the other well-worn approach to correlation, which re-inscribed the giveness of the object to the thinking subject as the line that there is nothing outside the text, or no outside-text.
Mallarmé’s Coup De Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hassard aka A Throw of Dice Will Never Abolish Chance, is a key source for those playful, effervescent philosophical and literary-critical languages – Blanchot, Derrida, Kristeva, Ranciere – one suspects Meillassoux of wanting entirely to leave behind.
Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard
(A throw of the dice will never abolish chance)
Stéphane Mallarmé Translated by A. S. Kline
Rainy Fascism Island
e-fluxHow to characterize this period post-crash, or post-post-crash if we assume that the measures taken (austerity, the destruction of the welfare state) have largely been set in motion, if not completed?1 The deliberate shifting of blame that saw the public sector punished for the crimes of the private allowed various other modes of the dis- or rather misplacement of resentment to be mobilized. The targets are the same as they ever were—migrants, the un- or underemployed, those in need of help or support—but, given that the structures that enabled help and support had largely been dismantled even before “austerity” measures were imposed, there seems little left to attack. Those outraged by people receiving benefits, or those telling people to just get a job, must know that what meager benefits there are do not support a life, and that in many places there simply are no jobs to get. But nevertheless, resentment remains, or at least, somehow, a fantasy version of it can be mobilized such that resentment acts as a kind of looping device, self-nourishing and ever-expanding. What should we call this state of affairs? How best to identify it, in order to redirect or dismantle its energies?
There is nothing really new about much of this, apart from the rapidity with which the directed and stage-managed misplacement of resentment happens. Those who are the most privileged believe that they, above everyone else, are the true victims, suffering from a lack of sovereignty, a lack of enjoyment: the last people who should be begrudged are the first to be hated by those who have the most.
‘We’re All Surrealists Now’: An Interview with Will Self
By Mike Doherty(....)
I don’t think that art is the mirror of life, and I think that there are real problems with naturalism as a concept. It seems self-defeating, and I’ve always understood that, and that’s why I’ve never written naturalism as commonly understood.
... the straightforward Swiftian thing remains implied in my writing. What you get in Gulliver is essentially an anthropologist’s perspective on humanity: it’s that great phrase Oliver Sachs used for his book, An Anthropologist on Mars. My authorial perspective in a lot of the texts has always been that of an anthropologist from another planet approaching Earth. If you view human behaviour as a subset of animal behaviour, then inevitably it appears grotesque. It only appears non-grotesque looked at from within self-censoring human perspectives, [including] books and artworks in which nobody shits.
... the way we think about our lives necessarily partakes of social and culturally sanctioned schemas, whether they’re as simple as the calendar or how much we weigh or what’s written on our cv. Our inclination to place ourselves in that common-sensical structure is always being undermined by our actual mental content. It’s Magritte, isn’t it? Or Freud: “In our dreams, we’re all surrealists, but in our lives, we’re bourgeois.” I think we’re all surrealists.
The Masque of the Red Death
November 13, 2014
Frost and Fog, Eragny 1892Camille Pissarro d. November 13, 1903
Now This is Now Happening Now is This Now: An EssayLoie Merrittlemon houndIntroduction: [Listen] Between the wheels of a subway train and its tracks or off the crags of stones or even the space between your dog’s toes, between a curtain and its stage, or the air vibrating between two bodies, we may hope to find a world apart. Where time envelops space, shadowing it, scrambling it and then gluing it back together in a different scene, in quiet, anxiety-ridden hovels of pleasure lifted from pain. This is happening now. Unobjectionable inexpressibility is best formulated by overwhelming all of the senses. How do we attain sensorial overload? Where do we find such drastic heights or such terrifying depths? Lights go out, shadows fall, the players emerge, this is the avant-garde. Longinus’ stenographer can’t stamp out the rules any longer. Rhetoric fails in shadows. We are left naked in our own production, subject to sensual whims of the blissfully blasphemous sublime. [Stop the noise now]Asymptote October 2014from Against the Current Tedi López Mills translated from the Spanish by Wendy BurkHow always the cipher appears under every avatar's line. —César Vallejo (trans. Rebecca Seiferle)Synthetic saint, my saint, my rat-and-plaster street, my alibi of imagined mosaics among veins of a gold hardly to be recognized as such, gold of an air that goes against gold, no one's gold, my habitual turn of phrase: once more I don't know what I know, leafless trunk, hollow wood left over when I construct myself, splinter of mine, not again, the bolt jumps out at me, lacking the tools I postpone myself, pause of mine as I hear the structure, the street itself where a sound is polished until it is as seditious as its idea, undermining wary sight, look at the park, the park as process, reality's onset, displacing the tree towards its archetype when there is no story in reserve, no world inserted with room to hold it, reticent brother, tugged by my refrain, the past is only a duplicate of death, a worthless card, there's hallway enough for the long queue,
The Footbridge, Lidingobron1918Carl Wilhelm Wilhelmsonb. November 12, 1866
Separating Flesh From Bone Trip Starkeyfull stopHumans understand ourselves as the earth’s great dominion-bearing beings. We have used that dominion as an excuse to ransack our world, tearing limb from limb, until it became an unrecognizable web of asphalt and damaged landscapes. Mountains have been toppled in search of resources, while ocean and atmosphere have been plugged with our chemical waste. Living organisms are sacrificed daily in the name of human progress. We boast in these accomplishments, delight in converting verdant trees into verdant dollar bills. In recent years, the figurative scales have shifted, and the very real threats of irreversible, life-altering damage have emerged at the forefront of world issues. Nature, if not from sheer frustration with the exploits of our race, has continued to act out in violence, warning us of its displeasure. Now, more than ever, there is a need for returning to the literature penned in nature’s defense. However, as we do this, we must be weary of blindly accepting the ideas of nature’s past prophets. We must avoid falling into the same old wooden elucidations, which obscure the notion that this world in which we live is fully alive. Instead, we must separate the dead bones of outdated thought from the lively flesh of our world. Literature overflows with perspectives on how we ought to carry ourselves as citizens of the natural world. It is up to us to wade through this ocean of thought, and emerge with more refined translations of the wild tongues that seek to save us from our own destruction.
footpath, PontoiseCamille Pissarro 1874
Fallen Angel The tragic life and enduring influence of critic Walter BenjaminIan Penmancity journal
Some of the current vogue for Benjamin may stem from our nostalgia for the vanished dream of grand European culture to which he belonged. Photographs of Benjamin at work in elegant libraries, or strolling along tourist-free Mediterranean streets, provoke feelings of awed and envious benevolence. In today’s insipid, rigorously PC academy, Benjamin represents a burst of real flavor. He’s kind of sexy, by academic standards. As well as doing literary criticism (and conducting a pitiless interrogation of the status and value of same), he also wrote about window displays, travel, children’s books, drugs, food, and films. The gorgeous One-Way Street (1928) reads like a textual kaleidoscope: a glinting mix of views, shadows, memories, and jokes. His is a nomad thought: unmoored and unhurried, sometimes flinty, sometimes a bit vague and stoned. Benjamin works in starts and stops, to a strange fugue-like pulse. His sentences have a hesitant, leaning rhythm, not unlike the playing of Thelonious Monk: you’re never quite sure where the next emphasis is going to fall. Benjamin was a stroller around the boundaries between serious thought and everyday pleasures, high culture and low tastes. His preferred place to think from was always a threshold. Sentences are constructed from memories of holiday walks, sundowner moods, and the rhythms of travel. There are deep sallies on baroque theater and the metaphysics of illusion—but also chatter about children’s-book illustration and how fish is prepared in Marseilles. When he produces what’s ostensibly a travel piece, it supplies the required “local color” about cooking smells and religious customs but also other, less wonted, observations: how porous Naples feels, a subtle commingling of private and public space so that you can no longer tell one from the other: buildings for which you don’t know if they’re still being built or slowly falling into vacancy.
Neither capitalism, nor fascism, nor the cruel whims of the marketplace finally extinguished Walter Benjamin. His own life killed him—a sudden overdose of time. He hobbled his own escape route with a prevaricator’s endless last-minute stalling: adjusting the sail and testing the wind. He had always had periods when he was unable to think, move, or see a way forward. Eiland and Jennings refer to intermittent periods of depression—but this is very much a postwar reading and not at all the same thing as melancholia, in the vital and many-edged sense that this word had for Benjamin. In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton includes in the class of those most subject to saturnine humor: “such as are solitary by nature, great students, given to much contemplation, and lead a life out of action.”
November 11, 2014
b. November 11, 1868
Nietzsche and the Burbs
The sister-principle, he says. The suburban-principle.
Even if she lost her job, she knew she could find a new one. Even if she was passed over for promotion, she knew it was only a matter of time before she, too, was promoted. This world was hers.
To hear her talk about her work-world, the corporate world, was to know that he could not possibly succeed in that world. That he could in no way get on in her world. To listen to her hold forth on hirings and firings, of targets and headhunts, made it clear that, whatever else, he should follow a path entirely different from his sister. It was to accept that there was no place for him, or for people like him, in the suburbs. That he could not possibly thrive in the suburbs, as she could. That he could in no way advance into the suburbs, as she could. That he was set up for failure – for complete and utter failure – in the suburbs.
The dead speak kindly
Translated by David McDuff
books from Finland
The thing with sorrow is that one thought there
was a fire but it is starting to rain. The brushwood smokes
listlessly for a while, it is far too sparse or dense
and on the field remains a dark installation sprawling
to the sky. The smoke from the clear evenings in April has
stuck in the jacket in the hall. Far from the city’s lights
So many years have passed, but flakes detach at the slightest breath
and blow out across the lake and up toward the house where I lived
with my parents and my brother, in our family.
The next chapter is called: before we forget
The next chapter is called: the darkness
the rain the kindness
It is already October and blowing hard
I must drive firewood home
I must turn the key in the lock
And then I hear again that voice,
mysterious and clear
You are old now little child
don’t be afraid little hare
For it is not we who know, but rather a certain state of mind in us that knows.
Kleist -- On the Gradual Formulation of Thoughts while Speaking
excerpted at flowerville
Language is as such no shackle, no brake-shoe, as it were, on the wheel of the intellect, but rather a second, parallel wheel whirling on the same axle. It is something else altogether when the intellect is done thinking through a thought before bursting into speech. For then it is obliged to dwell on the mere expression of that thought, and far from stimulating the intellect, this has no other effect than to let the steam out of excitement. Therefore, if an idea is expressed in a muddled manner it does not at all necessarily follow that the thinking that engendered it was muddled; but it could rather well be that those ideas expressed in the most twisted fashion were thought through most clearly. ...(more)
Cold Mountains and Withered Trees
d. November 11, 1939
The History of Men
1925 - 2012
It thrashes in the oaks and soughs in the elms.
Catches on innocence and soon dismantles that.
Sends children bewildered into life. Childhood
ends and is not buried. The young men ride out
and fall off, the horses wandering away. They get
on boats, are carried downstream, discover maidens.
They marry them without meaning to, meaning no harm,
the language beyond them. So everything ends.
Divorce gets them nowhere. They drift away from
the ruined women without noticing. See birds
high up and follow."Out of earshot," they think,
puzzled by earshot. History driving them forward,
making a noise like the wind in maples, of women
in their dresses. It stings their hearts finally.
It wakes them up, baffled in the middle of their lives
on a small bare island, the sea blue and empty,
the days stretching all the way to the horizon.
An Archaeologist of the Present
Translated from German by Leon Dische Becker.(....)
Farocki’s oeuvre bespeaks a consistent interest in forms of migration. He parsed the official depiction of migration in his video In-Formation—which he called “a silent movie”—and found myths of cultural difference, sedimented in language regimentation and pictograms. He himself was a passionate Berliner, always attached to his respective neighborhoods, but also a frequent and distant traveler, a “rocketeer,” as he liked to say. His interest in migration was related to a foible for the rootless—as described by philosopher Vilém Flusser, with whom he was in dialogue. No surprise then that the only actor Farocki ever dedicated an entire film to, was Peter Lorre, the lost one (Der Verlorene), whose “double face” he read as a palimpsest of transatlantic movements. Perhaps it was this interest in migration (also in the sense of translation) that inspired him—like Pasolini—to study gestures, one of his central projects.
November 10, 2014
Chat au Clair de Lunec. 1900Théophile Steinlen b. November 10, 1859Dear darkening ground, you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built, perhaps you’ll give the cities one more hour
and grant the churches and cloisters two, And those that labor—will you let their work grip them another five hours, or seven
before you become forest again, and widening wilderness in that hour of inconceivable terror when you take back your name from all things.
Just give me a little more time! I want to love the things as no one has thought to love them, until they’re worthy of you and real
. I want only seven days, seven on which no one has ever written himself – seven pages of solitude.
Rilke's Book of Hours Rainer Maria Rilke translations by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows google books
Nature Morte Au Damier / Rhum / Bass1912Louis Marcoussis1883 - 1941
An Army Of Dead Girls: Art’s Avant-Garde Joyelle McSweeneylana turnerthe page
This avant-garde, this army of Dead Girls, shakes the sun from the sky and replaces it with ornament, “orfebrería,” Art’s insignia (“as Grecian goldsmiths make / Of hammered gold and gold enamelling”?), stretching its own skin painfully up to replace the sky in counterconquest. When Art’s army arrives, it immediately enacts a regime of Anachronism. With and/or logic, it insists both on a dream interval and a fatal interval: this is not going to stop until you wake up so give up. Art performs both massive and trivial transformations—the dead are reanimated (a massive change), while a series of lyric, decorative images are daisy chained to each other with a twist of Art’s, or syntax’s, hand: pájaros become nenas como flores. Thanks to Art’s friable power, every surface is touched, changed, made to host each other, to and/or. The odd word order of Jen Hofer’s translation of the final sentence conveys this denaturing of rank, privilege, order, even the separability of bodies. The uncertain doubling up of roles and agencies in the final sentence—“Someone placed on our mask your lip”—points to the forceful and/or of Art’s regime. In this violent remaking of the world, the Dead Girls are Art’s avant-garde:Caminamos distantes y vacías antes de amenazar. Somos tus lobelias de piernas preferidas. Cada vez que agredimos es como darte un beso. Danos la presidencia o la dirección de los disparos. Somos los frutos frescos de la guerra.
We walk distant and empty before threatening. We are your lobelias with the legs you favor. Each time we attack it is like giving you a kiss. Give us the presidency or the direction of the gunshots. We are the fresh fruits of war.
Louis Marcoussis1st March: Ain Kiniyya by Yves Berger translated by John Berger Spring covers with a green exiles never forget the hills where wandering herds graze the growing grass Women stooped between olive trees clasp in their motherly hands sage wild thyme and zatar herbs of an inherited tongue Rain extracts from dust its secret treasures camomile poppy and cyclamen a coloured carpet of cries The blood of the red earth bleeds on a bed of pebbles whilst the wind blows away the pines of the settlements The folded strata of rock trace the lines of a time when oceans displaced mountains before menvia
November 07, 2014
photo - mw
“The Fair-haired Princess” and Serious Literature
Translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant and by Chen Zeping(....)
I grew up with books as my companions. Ever since I was very young, I regarded some books as “serious works.” One couldn’t understand them immediately. I could access them only after I “grew up.” Father’s bookshelves held “serious works” on Western philosophy including books by Marx and Lenin. The most conspicuous were the blue-covered volumes of Capital and several sets of the history of Chinese classical literature. Father read from these books every day for years. He read most of them over and over again.
These books emitted a special smell that drew me into reverie. Whenever I was alone at home, I loved to place these books on the table one by one and pore over them carefully. I would smell them up close and touch them repeatedly. The bindings of all of these books were unadorned and exquisite, and the pages were filled with Father’s notes. At moments like this, the emotions in my young heart soared beyond admiration and rapture. At the time, I also began reading books, most of them light literature. I couldn’t classify them together with Father’s books. I hungered for books that could keep me enthralled temporarily. After I read them, I was finished with them. I had no desire to keep them. And I couldn’t have kept them, even if I’d wanted to, for most of the books were borrowed. In those days, who could afford to buy books?
Father’s books stood quietly on the bookshelves—always silently luring me toward them. Subconsciously, I sensed a very profound world in those books. It would cost a person a lifetime to enter that world in depth. Father read those books at night, every night, for years. His contemplative expression behind his spectacles was certainly not a pose. What reading stirred up in his mind was much different from what I felt when I read ordinary books. What was that? No one could tell me—not even Father himself. He said only, “In the future, you must read all of my books.” Did he mean that in the future I should do as he had done—sit in front of the same book for years, steeped in meditation? I didn’t understand.
d. November 7, 1924
Packing My Library
Every day when I step out of my home to walk through the streets of my little Brooklyn neighborhood, I come upon boxes of books outside entranceways, on walls, and at the curb between garbage bags. Sometimes one box. Sometimes half a dozen. The houses with their stiff façades of brick and brownstone are steadily, inexorably disgorging their books. Coughing up volumes of D. H. Lawrence and Loire-region travel guides. Spewing Edith Wharton and Chinese cooking secrets. Vomiting old histories of Middle Eastern politics. The houses are terribly sick—bloated, congested, sclerotic—and they have undertaken a book cleanse. Some bright Sunday I expect to find the sidewalks buried in shiny paperbacks and tattered old hardcovers. Will I be able to wade through them? How deep will the book flood become?
Encountering a particularly huge regurgitation of literature, I glance up at the windows of the house from which it originated, wondering what happened inside to bring on this vast discharge. But the rooms are always still and dark. Always! Shouldn’t some great commotion signal that a crisis has come upon this residence? Shouldn’t, at the least, curtains be fluttering and cats be jumping for their lives? Are the inhabitants of these houses dead? Are the little unlit pyres of books before their doors announcements of mourning? How did I miss the moment when it was determined that the laying out of books before one’s house would indicate a corpse within?
Brief, Image, and Etymology: On Reading
To read is to be, for a time, text, but how? Say a text is allowed to enter the self and establish its distillment and pattern, why does this cause things to happen?
Discomfiting, perhaps, perhaps illuminating or predatory, but nevertheless the text shakes out its tent in the skull. Between self and text, energy is indisputably born. Out of nothing, a genesis, a will that is more the text’s than the author’s will, more the text’s than the self’s.
b. November 7, 1861
November 06, 2014
Everett Shinnb. November 6, 1876Maurice Blanchot and Fragmentary Writing by Leslie Hill Reviewed by Michael KrimperMakeFoucault once expressed his wish that he could write like Blanchot, on the precipice of genres, gazing into the void that lies just beyond their boundaries.ReadySteadyBook
By putting itself into jeopardy, fragmentary writing at once generates and thwarts itself. Language pours out of this gap that interrupts any definitive beginning or end, without itself coming to an end. A revealing passage from The Writing of Disaster, cited by Hill, helpfully illustrates this remarkable power of contestation. Blanchot declares that “fragmentary writing might well be the greatest risk. It does not refer to any theory, and does not give rise to any practice definable by interruption. Even when it is interrupted, it carries on. Putting itself in question, it does not take control of the question but suspends it (without maintaining it) as a non-response.” Blanchot’s texts are certainly destructive, but they simultaneously appeal to a principle of freedom at the origin of all literature—that is, a principle that lets us say and contest everything. And yet, in characteristically Blanchotian fashion, this freedom must call itself into question, for the fragmentary disrupts all claims to authority, including its own. It threatens to undermine any form of authorization that could be attributed to the subject, whether of the author, reader, or language.
Hill calls this questioning “sovereign disobedience,” and he helpfully links it to Blanchot’s crucial notion of the neuter (le neutre). The neuter refers to the grammar of the impersonal but more importantly evacuates language of subjectivity. Blanchot says that an altogether other voice than the “I” speaks in literature. Whether in the give and take of speech between multiple interlocutors, or the counterproductive movement of waiting, the impersonal language of the neuter suspends oppositional forces in the text without resolving them. Unlike dialectical thought, as elaborated by Hegel, the neuter neither affirms nor negates being. Literary language resides in a space of the excluded middle (neither something nor nothing). It retracts what it says while crossing out the steps of erasure. And through this movement, the neuter interrupts the mediating power of dialectics, which Blanchot and others in France at the time associated with the violence of totality and appropriation. Whereas the labor of the negative always reduces the other to the order of the same, the neuter welcomes the irreducibility of the other. It gradually undoes the work of literature whose organizing principle synthesizes contradictory positions into an integrated whole. Whereas dialectics gathers everything into unity (such as the state, national language, and a work of art), the neuter restlessly disperses identity and affirms in turn the multiplicity of difference.
Fleishman's Bread LineEverett ShinnThe Internet’s First FamilyStephen ThomashazlittPeople connect to each other here, is what I’m saying. They get to know each other and they treat each other well. If Twitter is people you don’t know at their wittiest, and Facebook is people you do know at their most mundane, then MetaFilter, I would say, is a family of strangers.Founded in 1999 by Matt Haughey, a.k.a. mathowie, who worked on an early version of Blogger, one of the first-ever blogging platforms (which was eventually bought by Google), MetaFilter is a venerable institution in a context—the Internet—where the phrase “venerable institution” is only maybe just beginning to acquire a non-ironic usage.via Dangerousmeta!
Nominally, MetaFilter is a venue for people to talk about things other people have done, intelligently and with respect for each other (if not necessarily for the thing being discussed), and a small number of people are paid well to ensure this is what happens. All of this, it seems, adds up to a place with a premium on humility and other-centeredness. Of course, members’ opinions, perspectives, and anecdotes come out inevitably and regularly in the comments, and are in many ways the lifeblood of the site. But the fact remains that structurally, the users’ main input to the site—their comments—are secondary, appendageal, or, looked at another way: supportive.
An Information Guerrilla Readerassembled at Deterritorial Investigations Unit
Brilliant impersonators Kat McGowanaeon... Throughout human history, innovation – including the technological progress we cherish – has been fuelled and sustained by imitation. Copying is the mighty force that has allowed the human race to move from stone knives to remote-guided drones, from digging sticks to crops that manufacture their own pesticides. Plenty of animals can innovate, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being. We’re natural-born rip-off artists. To be human is to copy.
Diversifying Translation Daniel GouldenAsymptote Blog(....)
The very act of translation heightens the vitality of the languages it connects. It broadens the array of people that the source language can speak to and transforms the function of the target language. The world that Goethe envisions is a world where literatures complement and complicate each other. When larger languages drown out smaller ones, World Literature loses the crucial elements that make it an endeavor worth pursuing.
The era of World Literature is perennially at hand. Just as World Literature has changed since Goethe first conceived it, we need to make the effort to change it from its current form. In order for World Literature to diversify, translators must first make the effort to diversify both in the regions they choose their work, and the languages they choose to translate. In doing so we can add to the vitality of global literature, while demonstrating that translation is not just an art form, but a way to build global equality and understanding.